US off-year elections live

Live coverage of today’s US state elections in Virginia and New Jersey, and two federal by-elections in Ohio. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Analysis: Democrats staring at midterm election abyss next November

In 2020, Democrats won the federal House be a 222-213 margin, losing 13 seats from the 2018 results, despite Biden winning the presidency. All House seats and one-third of the Senate, which Democrats control 50-50 with Harris’ casting vote, are up for election in November 2022.

Analyst Dave Wasserman said that Republicans outperformed the Biden-Trump margins in New Jersey’s legislative elections by a median 10.8 points. If that swing were repeated nationally next November, Democrats would lose 44 House seats. In Virginia, Reps outperformed by a median 12.3 points, and would gain 51 seats if repeated nationally.

The NJ and Virginia elections were high turnout. NY Times analyst Nate Cohn said that McAuliffe has 200,000 more votes than Dem Northam in 2017, who won by 8.9 points, while Murphy is matching his 2017 tally with many votes outstanding; he won by 14 points in 2017. High Republican turnout and vote switching from Democrats to Republicans caused these results.

CNN analyst Harry Enten said that in Virginia exit polls, Biden had a 54-45 disapproval rating, and Trump a 54-42 unfavourable rating. Those who approved of Biden were almost all for McAuliffe, and those who favoured Trump were almost all for Youngkin. The crucial bloc was the 16% who disapproved of Biden and had an unfavourable view of Trump. They voted for Youngkin by 68-32. Now that Biden is president, running against Trump is no longer good enough for Democrats.

In the 2020 Virginia exit poll, Biden won whites with a university degree (33% of sample) 52-45, while Trump won non-uni whites (34% of sample) by 62-38, with Biden dominating with over 75% among voters of color. In 2021, Youngkin won non-uni whites by a crushing 76-24, with McAuliffe holding up with uni-educated whites, winning by 52-47, and dominating voters of color with over 75% though they made up a lower proportion of the electorate.

The implications of this blowout in the non-uni white vote towards Republicans is frightening for Democrats. In 2020, Biden won by holding steady with non-uni whites vs the 2016 election and gaining with uni educated whites. If non-uni whites nationally start voting like those in deep southern states such as Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Democrats are in massive trouble.

Live Commentary

1pm Friday With over 95% reporting in NJ, Dem Murphy leads Rep Ciattarelli by 50.8-48.5 for governor. In the state Senate, Dems lead by 23-15 with two undecided – one Dem lead and one Rep. In the House, it’s 43-28 Dem with nine undecided – six Rep leads and three Dem. So the Senate outcome is likely to be 24-16 Dem, a one-seat gain for Reps, and the House outcome 46-34, a six-seat gain.

The big boilover in NJ’s legislature was Dem Senate pres Sweeney losing his seat to a truck driver who spent less than $US 200 on his campaign. Sweeney was a moderate who had dealt with former Rep governor Christie and obstructed some of Murphy’s agenda.

11:10am NJ Governor CALLED for Dem Murphy, who now leads by 50.0-49.2 with 90% in.

7:32am Thursday In some good news for Democrats, Murphy now leads in NJ by 50.0-49.3 with 89% in. Dems still look likely to win the state Senate by 23-17. Late counting in NJ can take weeks.

In Virginia, Reps will have a statewide sweep of elected offices, not just of governor, but also lieutenant governor and attorney general. And they’ve gained another state House seat for a 52-48 win, a seven seat gain. The only good news for Dems is that the state Senate, which they control by 21-19, was not up for election this year.

I will have analysis of these results later today.

8:10pm With 88% reported in NJ, Ciattarelli leads by just over 1,200 votes (0.05%). Murphy is expected to pull ahead as the Dem counties report their final votes. In the NJ legislature, Dems currently lead by 23-17 in the Senate. With two House members to be elected per Senate district, the House is likely to be roughly proportional to the Senate result.

5:18pm With all seats called in Virginia’s state House, Reps will have a 51-49 majority, a six seat gain for them.

5:08pm Ciattarelli now leads by under 600 votes in NJ. I’ve looked at the counties, and the Dem-friendly ones appear to have more votes left than Rep ones. On that basis, Murphy should win.

4:58pm In the 2017 Virginia governor contest, a bit over 2.6 million votes were cast. This year, over 3.2 million votes have been counted between the Dem and Rep candidates. This was a high turnout election in a Biden +10 state, and the Reps still won.

4:52pm With 84% reporting in NJ, Dem Murphy pulls into a near-tie with Rep Ciattarelli, with both on 49.6%. Ciattarelli leads by about 2,000 votes.

4:22pm In Virginia’s state House, one seat has flipped in late counting, so Reps now lead by 51-48 with one undecided, a six-seat gain for Reps. In NJ, Rep Ciattarelli leads Dem Murphy by 50.1-49.1 with 81% in.

3:54pm In Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey’s lead narrows to 16.6%,, only just above Trump’s 14% margin. CNN has called Virginia governor for Youngkin, and Virginia’s state House is likely to be 50-50, a five seat gain for Reps. In New York City, Dem Adams wins by 66-29 with 85% in.

3:47pm With 78% reporting in NJ, Rep Ciatarelli leads Dem Murphy by 50.2-49.0. Commentators on Twitter are saying there’s no public info on how much vote by mail votes etc are left outstanding in each county, so hard to project anything.

2:35pm With almost all votes counted in Ohio, Dem Brown wins the 11th by 57.6%, down only slightly from Biden’s 60% margin. And in the 15th, Rep Carey wins by 20%, up from Trump’s 14% margin.

2:29pm Murphy coming back in NJ, trailing now by 49.1-50.1 with 71% in.

2:27pm Reps now lead by 44-28 in Virginia’s state House, a four seat gain for them. According to Wasserman, it’s likely to finish at a 50-50 tie, a five seat gain for Reps.

2:11pm Ciattarelli still leading NJ governor by 51.7-47.5 with 61% in. In Virginia, Reps now have a 42-26 lead over Dems in the state House, with 32 undecided. That’s a gain of three seats so far for Reps. Youngkin’s lead over McAuliffe narrows to 51.0-48.3 with 95% in.

1:30pm Rep Ciattarelli is now leading Dem Murphy in NJ Governor by 51.7-47.5 with 51% in. No NJ poll had Murphy losing.

1:00pm In NJ, Dem Murphy now trailing by 49.9-49.3 with 38% in. Would be a complete shocker for Dems if that holds. Better news in Ohio, where Dems are only two points off the 2020 results in both the 11th and 15th with most in. Dem Eric Adams easily wins NYC mayor.

12:25pm And New Jersey suddenly narrows to just a 52.6-46.6 lead for Dem Murphy with 22% reporting.

12:15pm With 18% reporting in New Jersey, Dem Murphy leads by 55.9-43.2.

12:11pm Carey now up to a 57.8-42.2 margin in Ohio’s 15th, ahead of Trump by 1.5% with 71% in.

12:02pm With an estimated 58% in in Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey leads Dem Russo by 55.9-44.1. That’s a bit under Trump’s 14-point margin, but there’s still more election day to report.

11:56am In New Jersey, Dem Murphy leads by 60.3-38.8 with 10% reporting. That’s mostly early votes, and election day will narrow the margin.

11:36am Wasserman has CALLED it. Rep Youngkin defeats Dem McAuliffe for Virginia governor. That’s a Republican GAIN.

11:32am Republicans are currently leading in 17 Dem-held seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates, compared with one Dem lead in a Rep-held seat. This is getting UGLY for Democrats.

11:25am Youngkin leads by 55.3-44.0 with 47% in. Dave Wasserman has been tweeting final county result that show Youngkin doing better than what he needs.

11:13am With 42% in in Ohio’s 15th, Rep Carey leads by 54.1-45.9. His lead should increase further as more election day votes are counted. The Ohio 11th has been called for Dem Brown with an 82-18 lead, but election day votes are likely to reduce that margin.

11:07am With 41% in, Youngkin leads by 55.7-43.6. Nate Cohn is getting more confident that Youngkin will win by about 2%.

10:52am In Ohio’s 15th, Republican Carey leads Dem Russo by 51.2-48.8 with 22% in. That’s probably early votes, and election day votes can be expected to be far more Rep-favouring.

10:48am 26% in, and Youngkin leads by 52.0-47.3.

10:43am Youngkin leads by 54.7-44.6 with 14% in. New York Times analyst Nate Cohn thinks Youngkin is doing well enough to win.

10:33am With an estimated 8% in, Youngkin leads by 51.9-47.5.

10:27am Some Dem votes have reported, and Youngkin leads by 53-46 with an estimated 5% in.

10:23am Wednesday Early results for Virginia governor have Republican Youngkin leading Democrat McAuliffe by 68-31. Exit polls suggest a narrow lead for Youngkin.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Contests for governor of Virginia and New Jersey will be held today, as well as two federal by-elections in Ohio. Polls close at 10am AEDT in Virginia, 10:30am in Ohio and 11am in New Jersey.

The final FiveThirtyEight aggregate in Virginia gives Republican Youngkin a 47.9-47.0 lead over Democrat McAuliffe (McAuliffe by 0.1 last Friday). Joe Biden won Virginia by ten points at the 2020 election, so any loss would be demoralising for Democrats, and a narrow win hardly something to celebrate.

Four late polls in New Jersey give Democrat incumbent Murphy four to nine point leads, but Biden won NJ by 16 points, so this polling is still consistent with a sizeable swing to Republicans.

For the US House by-elections, Biden won the Ohio 11th by more than 60%, while Donald Trump won the Ohio 15th by 14% according to Daily Kos elections. While both districts are expected to be held by the incumbent party, swings from the 2020 results will be interesting. A mid-October poll in the 15th gave the Republican an 11-point lead.

Biden’s ratings are currently at 50.7% disapprove, 42.9% approve in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate (net -7.8), a further 0.5-point slide on net approval since Friday. Biden’s ratings are making it difficult for Democrats, and they’ll need his ratings to be in positive net approval to have a realistic chance to hold the House and Senate at the 2022 midterm elections.

I thought Virginia would skew Republican in early results as low population counties reported first. However, a comment by ChrisC on Friday’s article says that Virginia has made changes to how early votes are processed, and that we should have results from early votes soon after polls close in the whole state. This will skew the first votes counted to Democrats. In 2020, election day votes were very pro-Trump, and we will need to see complete results for counties before drawing conclusions.

Japanese election: landslide for the LDP

At Sunday’s Japanese election, the conservative LDP won 261 of the 465 lower house seats (down 23 since the 2017 election, but well over the 233 required for a majority). The LDP’s Komeito allies won 32 (up three), the centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) 96 (up 41) and the populist right Nippon 41 (up 30).

The LDP dominated the first-past-the-post seats, winning 189 of 289 with 57 for the CDP, on vote shares of 48.1% to 30.0%. The LDP has only been out of government for two brief periods since 1955.

29 comments on “US off-year elections live”

  1. Looking increasingly likely that Youngkin will win in Virginia, in line with polls over the last week or so. McAuliffe not entirely out of the running just yet, but he’ll need to rack up big margins in both the early vote and in the more Dem areas around DC and Richmond.

    There will no doubt be a lot of commentary about such a result and its predictive powers for next years mid-terms, most of which will be hogwash (in short, there is no real historical correlation between these off-year elections and general elections a year later). But it what it (or at least, should, if you’re a Republican) is how to run in purple states: run of a loosely Tumpy platform (Critical Race Theory – boo!), while keeping El Donaldo himself at arm’s length.

    Meanwhile, just about all the other races on today are going largely to script. Murphy looks to be easily re-elected in New Jersey, while the other down-ballot and Mayoral races are going as expected.

  2. Angora Fish – I did indeed speak too soon re New Jersey, though I think that Murphy will hold on. Closer than looked likely though. Still, many also might be speaking too soon about Virginia – the numbers have tightened significantly in the last hour or so, with about 60k votes separating them. Youngkin still favourite, you’d have to say, but not over yet.

  3. Call me Cassandra. Actually even I didn’t realise just how fucked Democrats are.

    But take note Biden (and Albo, assuming you even win). Left-leaning voters expect results.

  4. I’ve been saying in these articles that it’s much more the economy hurting Biden now, not the fiasco over his Congressional agenda.

    Yes, Virginia has tightened, but that was predicted by the experts. Youngkin will win.

  5. Adrian – yes, I’d say that’s true. Petrol prices, especially, are often a clear indicator of voter sentiment, and the higher they are the worse it usually is for the incumbent.

  6. The Virginia House looks likely to end up as a 50-50 tie (and the State Senate was not up today, so will will retain its Dem majority), so presumably would-be Governor Youngkin won’t be able to achieve much beyond banging on about Critical Race Theory.

    Just on that, I do marvel about how good the cranky Right is about beating up boogiemen for voters to get worried about. 98% of voters wouldn’t have the foggiest what CRT actually is, nor would they know that there isn’t a school in the nation that teaches it to students. It’s a complete straw man, and yet here it is, powering a likely election victory for the GOP in the Blue-leaning State.

  7. Youngkin’s lead has widened again (to about 85K), with reports that there are around 200k votes left to count. I saw an estimate that McAuliffe would need about 3/4 of the remaining vote to win (or else hope that there are some additional votes as yet uncounted), which seems pretty unlikely. Meanwhile, Murphy is surging back in New Jersey, on the back on late counting in the heavily Democratic counties around Newark, which should be enough for him to win re-election. But it’s a been a lot closer than anyone predicted (whereas VA is more or less in line with the published polling).

    As Furtive noted above, it’s not enough for the Dems to have vanquished Trump – they need to be able to demonstrate some concrete achievements. The infrastructure Bills before Congress should help, though they really should have been passed six months ago. You’d have to say that the more progressive Dems haven’t really read the lay of the land very well, shooting for the moon for too long after it has become obvious that the likes of Manchin and Sinema were never likely to back the more expansive program. The $2T worth of spending in the BBB and the BIB are still great achievements, but it’s all taken so long that voters might not see it that way.

    Still, November 2022 is still a long way away, and many of the issues that have animated this year’s somewhat quirky contests may not be such a big deal in a year. Covid is have faded, more likely than not, and the trade bottlenecks that are fueling the current inflation spikes may well have eased too. If the Dems can successfully sell their achievements (a big “if”), and perhaps more crucially pass some form of voting reform, they will be in with a big chance.

  8. Hugoaugogo @ #9 Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 – 1:58 pm

    The Virginia House looks likely to end up as a 50-50 tie (and the State Senate was not up today, so will will retain its Dem majority), so presumably would-be Governor Youngkin won’t be able to achieve much beyond banging on about Critical Race Theory.

    Just on that, I do marvel about how good the cranky Right is about beating up boogiemen for voters to get worried about. 98% of voters wouldn’t have the foggiest what CRT actually is, nor would they know that there isn’t a school in the nation that teaches it to students. It’s a complete straw man, and yet here it is, powering a likely election victory for the GOP in the Blue-leaning State.

    Hmmmmm. Well, with voluntary voting, having 3o odd% of the population rabidly in your corner is gonna help you win elections. Especially off year and midterm ones and especially with the media they watch revving them into a fever. CRT this time. Could be anything next time.

    AB – Did disillusioned repugs stay home? Disillusioned Independents and Dems the same? Or was there significant changing of stripes from 2020?

  9. I know I already posted but I am stunned that Dems are losing in NJ after Jan 6 insurrection.

    Looks like the door is closing for that country for any proper recovery. Trump has really unleashed the dark side of American people.

  10. Ven,
    It is really is wanton destruction by the least educated, male or female.

    I think the only thing to save the USA from a Trump 2nd term and complete collapse is if Olde Father Time calls it on Trump, due to the Orange Blob’s unhealthy lifestyle.

  11. While I would argue that we should be wary about reading too much into results in Virginia and New Jersey, there is one element that should be ringing alarm bells for the Democrats, both for next year’s mid-terms, and longer term – and that is the apparent swing away from them among suburban voters. Much has been written about the supposed great re-alignment current underway in US politics (and indeed across the western world), but what if that alignment is mostly one-way? What if the Dems (and other centre-Left parties elsewhere) are starting to lose their grip on the traditional white working class vote, while at the same time the mooted move the other way among hitherto GOP-leaning suburbanites is much less strong? In retrospect, we probably should have seen this coming, with the 2020 results primarily a rejection of Trump, while at the same time the Democrats lost ground in the House and other races down the ticket, and now, with Trump no longer on the ballot, those suburban voters might be starting to return to their traditional home, the Republican Party. So the big question is: are the Democrats be best served by having Trump as the GOP candidate in 2024, with the risk that he might actually win (either fairly or, more likely, by shenanigans)? Or would the Republicans be better off running a younger and more outwardly moderate candidate (not necessarily Youngkin, but someone like him)? And should the Dems now rush to get the infrastructure bills off the table and focus entirely on voting (and associated filibuster) reform in the time they have left? Certainly the answer is yes for that last question, but given how ham-fisted they have managed their slim double majority to this point, I don’t hold out too much hope.

  12. “USA is forked beyond repair. Australia will be too if we do not watch out.”


    Certainly is. It has been for quite some time. About a third of the country are stark raving mad far-right nutters, around another third are hopelessly and often willingly under the thumb of the political and corporate establishments, while the remainder is made up of the genuinely decent Americans who must be left ripping their hair out in frustration over the state of their country. That’s just the voting population – there’s another huge chunk (hundreds of millions of people) who frankly just really don’t give a shit about any of it one way or another.


    The Democrats in Virginia were the incumbent party but without an incumbent candidate for governor (Virginia does not allow incumbent governors to run for governor). They also have the legislature and the trifecta at federal level.

    Biden is not particularly popular at the moment. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was too messy and despite controlling Congress, little legislative action is being achieved. This is partly because Biden is not tough enough of Republicans and certain Democrats (Manchin, Sinema, several house members of similar inclination, etc.).

    Dumping all efforts on infrastructure and/or build back better would make the Democrats even less popular because they need achievements to get votes.

    With Biden as president, his age shows. It is almost certainly not as bad as republicans make it out to be, however countering that message is likely an uphill battle of a vertical nature.

  14. Biden may well retire before the end of his term, but if it does happen, it won’t happen before late 2023. For one thing, Biden has waited a long time to be president, and he’s not going to step down after less than a year, not unless there really is some sort of serious health issue that compels him to. I’m sure Harris would also prefer her boss sticks around for another couple of years – if he leaves now, she’d only be able to run for re-election once, as the 22nd Amendment (the one that sets a two-term limit for Presidents) only allows VPs to serve no more than two years of an unfinished term before running for two terms in their own right. If Biden stood down tomorrow, Harris could run in 2024, but would have to step down after that term, in early 2029 (assuming she wins, of course).

    But in any event, it’s still a bit early to be writing off the Biden presidency, or even the Democratic majority Congress at this stage. Things look a bit grim for the Blue team for 2022 right now, but there’s still time for them to get their act together – the infrastructure bills will almost certainly be passed in the next week or two, after which they are giving every impression of going after voting reform, and if they can get that through, it levels the electoral playing field considerably.

    It’s also much too soon to write off Biden himself – the likes of Reagan, Clinton and Obama all looked like one-term presidents at times during their first few years, and as we know all three were re-elected quite easily.

  15. The House today passed the bipartisan infrastructure Bill 228-206, and will now go to Biden to be signed into law. That’s two big pieces of legislation (with the Covid relief Bill) passed this year, twice the amount of the entire Trump years (where only the 2017 tax Bill could really be considered anything big). Now on to the Build Back Better reconciliation Bill, which while it will be considerably less than what was originally proposed, will still be a significant achievement. If they can pass that and then something on voting rights, the 117th Congress can lay claim to being very productive, notwithstanding the very public sausage making we’ve been forced to watch this year.

  16. Adrian – that’s true, though as the Bill also received 19 GOP Senate votes, it was always a safe assumption that it would garner at least a few Republican votes in the House. For all that, it’s instructive that more GOP Senators voted for it than in the House, given that the HoR is over four times as large as the Senate – a sign of how much more polarised the House is, with its heavily gerrymandered districts.

  17. Is it really that much of a big deal if the Dems lose in New Jersey? Just going off the list of governors on Wiki, it looks like a pretty 50-50 state.

    In the recent past the Reps have held the NJ governorship from 1982-90, 1994-2002, and 2010-18 – basically all the Clinton and Obama years, if you ignore the year offset. Meanwhile, the Dems have won it while both Bushes and Trump were in. Last time there was a US president and NJ governor of the same party (for more than a year) was in the 80’s.

  18. Tom – true to some extent, but the main reason that GOP House Congressmen and women face primaries from the Right is because they hold what are otherwise very safe seats. They don’t need to worry about losing the district to a Democrat in the general election because the seat has been gerrymandered enough to be safe apart from in a huge swing. Consequently sitting Congressmen & women need to more show how ideologically pure they are to avoid being primaried. The same dynamic plays out in safe Dem seats too, of course, though in general Democrats and their voters are far less crazy than the current iteration of Republicans.

    By contrast, Senate seats cannot be gerrymandered (apart from the institutional gerrymander that favours small states over large ones) and so Senators tend, on the whole, to be less nakedly partisan than the House, as individual Senators are representing whole states, which includes significant numbers of voters for the other side, far more than in gerrymandered House seats.

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