Further analysis Thursday morning
While these elections were good for Dems, New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says they were low-turnout affairs. The types of voters that didn’t vote yesterday, but are likely to vote in a presidential election, are much more anti-Biden, and more motivated by economic factors than abortion.
Furthermore, the legislative elections, where voters don’t know so much about candidates so they vote for parties more than for candidates, were mediocre for Dems compared with Biden’s margins. In Virginia, Dems won the Senate by 21-19 and the House by a likely 51-49. But Biden won Virginia by 10.1% in 2020. In the close seats, Reps ran well ahead of Trump.
In New Jersey, Dems won the Senate by 25-15 and the House by 51-29. But if they’d won the NJ popular vote by close to Biden’s 15.9 point margin in 2020, the single-member system should have produced a bigger blowout. In Mississippi, Reps won the Senate by 36-16 and the House by 79-41 with two others. That suggests a blowout; it was Trump by 16.5 in 2020.
Republicans also far exceeded their governor candidate’s performance in other statewide races in Mississippi and Kentucky.
5:37pm Overall, today was decent for Dems. They gained full control of the Virginia legislature after Reps won the House in a big swing two years ago. They held the federal Rhode Island seat in a by-election by a bigger margin than in 2022. They held the Kentucky governorship despite it being a very Republican state at presidential elections. And two referendums supported by Dems passed in Ohio.
However, Biden remains unpopular, and today’s results are not good predictors of the outcome of the November 2024 presidential election. But they’ll mean Biden is less likely to face a real challenge to his re-nomination as 2024 Dem presidential candidate.
5:13pm Rep Reeves has been called the Mississippi governor winner, defeating Dem Presley by 51.6-46.6 with 94% in.
4:15pm Dems have now been called the winners of both chambers of the Virginia legislature, gaining control of the House and maintaining it in the Senate. Nate Silver says that, since 2917, Dems have done well in US elections when Trump isn’t on the ballot paper with the exception of November 2021.
3:40pm In Mississippi, with 86% in, Rep Reeves leads by 52.3-45.8 and Wasserman has called for Reeves. Dems have won the Virginia state Senate 21-16 with 3 uncalled, and lead in the House 48-42 with 10 uncalled. Dems have also won a state Supreme Court judgeship in Pennsylvania, where a Dem defeated a Rep 54.1-45.9.
2:10pm Mississippi looks very likely to be held by the incumbent Rep governor Reeves, with Wasserman pointing out a disastrous result for the Dem challenger.
2:07pm In Virginia, Dems lead the state Senate in called races by 18-14 with 8 still undecided. They lead the House by 42-32 with 26 undecided.
1:46pm Over 95% reporting in Rhode Island, and the Dem wins the by-election by 64.8-35.2. That’s slightly better than the 64.0-35.8 margin Dems won by in 2022, and much bigger than the poll that suggested only an 11-point Dem win.
1:42pm In Ohio, both the pro-abortion and the pro-marijuana amendments have been called for “yes”. However, the pro-abortion amendment is doing much less well than polls suggested (winning 56-44 when polls had it up by over 20 points).
1:20pm Media have now called Kentucky governor for Dem incumbent Beshear, who leads by 52.7-47.3 with 86% in.
1:17pm With 12% counted in Mississippi, the incumbent Rep Reeves leads the Dem Presley for governor by 56.0-42.5.
1:12pm Wasserman says Dems have retained control of the Virginia state Senate. With 41% counted in Ohio, the pro-abortion amendment wins (current lead 57.4-42.6).
12:55pm With 33% counted in Ohio, the pro-abortion measure is winning by 59.1-40.9 and the pro-marijuana one by 55.7-44.3.
12:22pm Fast counting in RI, where polls closed at 12pm. Dem now leads by 63.4-36.6 with 75% in.
12:16pm In Rhode Island, the Dem has been called the winner of the federal by-election, and currently leads by 62.4-37.6 with 58% in.
12:10pm In Virginia it’s a 6-6 tie in the Senate in called races; 21 needed for a majority. In the House, Dems lead by 24-19; 51 needed for majority.
11:51am Both Ohio referendums, one on a right to abortion and one on legalising marijuana, are far ahead, abortion by 66-34 and marijuana by 57.5-42.5. The NYT prediction is both will win easily.
11:31am Wasserman has CALLED Kentucky governor for Dem Beshear. He currently leads by 56.6-43.4 with 31% in.
11:19am US analyst Dave Wasserman is tweeting the results as counties complete their counts, and these are so far looking good for Beshear (Dem) in Kentucky compared to 2019, which he won.
10:58am 12% now reporting in Kentucky, and Beshear leads by 60-40. This reflects early votes from the Kentucky cities of Louisville and Lexington.
10:40am Wednesday The first results from Kentucky from rural counties have the Rep Cameron leading the Dem incumbent Beshear by 53-47.
Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
While the next US presidential election will occur in November 2024, there are a few US state elections and a federal by-election today. There will be gubernatorial elections in Kentucky and Mississippi and legislative elections in Mississippi, Virginia and New Jersey. A federal by-election for a safe Democratic House seat will occur in Rhode Island, and there will be a referendum on a pro-abortion measure in Ohio.
Elections in Louisiana (Donald Trump by 18.6 in 2020) occurred on October 14, with runoffs if needed on November 18. In a “jungle primary” in which all candidates run on the same ballot, Republican Jeff Landry won the governorship with 51.6%, above the 50% required to win outright, with a Democrat at 25.9%. Including minor candidates, Republicans defeated Democrats by 65.5-28.5. This was a Republican gain, with the current Democratic governor term limited. Republicans extended their state Senate majority from 27-12 to 28-11 with the House to be decided after runoffs.
In Kentucky (Trump by 25.9 in 2020), incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear led Republican Daniel Cameron for governor by 49-33 in an Emerson poll in early October, but this became a 47-47 tie in the final Emerson poll last week. In Mississippi (Trump by 16.5), a mid-October poll by a Democratic pollster had incumbent Republican Tate Reeves just one point ahead of his Democratic challenger, but an early October poll gave him an 8-point lead.
Republicans hold big majorities in the Mississippi legislature, while Democrats have clear majorities in the New Jersey legislature (Joe Biden by 15.9 in 2020). The most interesting legislative election is in Virginia (Biden by 10.1), where a big swing to Republicans in 2021 gave them the governorship and a 52-48 majority in the House. The Senate was not up for election in 2021, and Democrats hold a 22-18 majority.
Polling shows the pro-abortion measure in Ohio (Trump by 8.0) winning by at least 20 points. Past votes on similar measures in various states have far exceeded Biden’s performance in 2020, but they don’t imply smashing Democratic victories any more than the big defeat for Australia’s Voice referendum implies a smashing Coalition victory. State gubernatorial elections are poorly correlated with presidential elections.
A mid-October poll for the federal by-election in Rhode Island gave the Democrat a 46-35 lead. This would be a poor result for Democrats, as Biden won 63.8% in 2020 and Democrats won by 64-36 in 2022.
Polls close at 10am AEDT Wednesday in Kentucky’s eastern time zone, 11am in Virginia and western Kentucky, 11:30am in Ohio, and 12pm in Rhode Island, Mississippi and New Jersey. I will start commenting from about 10:45am.
Despite unpopularity, Biden and Trump cruising to nominations
The Democratic and Republican nominating contests begin in early 2024, with the Iowa Republican caucus on January 15 the first contest. There are several other contests in February before many states vote on “Super Tuesday” March 5.
Trump is dominating Republican national primary polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, winning 58.4%, to 13.6% for Ron DeSantis and 7.9% for Nikki Haley. He also has a big lead in Iowa. Biden hasn’t been challenged by another important Democrat. Federal Minnesota House member Dean Phillips launched a presidential campaign on October 27, but is so far not registering in Democratic national polls.
Biden and Trump’s likely nominations come despite their unpopularity with the general electorate. Biden’s ratings are currently 55.0% disapprove, 38.8% approve in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate (net -16.1), while Trump is at 54.6% unfavourable, 40.8% favourable (net -13.7).
Robert F. Kennedy Jr campaigned for the Democratic nomination, but his anti-vaxxer views were unsuitable for Democrats. He has launched an independent presidential campaign, and polls currently have him in the double digits. Biden and Trump’s unpopularity could benefit third party candidates. By the November 2024 election, Biden will be almost 82 and Trump 78.
Siena polls for The New York Times of six close 2020 Biden states were released Sunday. They gave Trump four-to-ten-point leads in five of these states, with Biden only ahead by two in Wisconsin. By 59-37, voters trusted Trump over Biden on the economy.
Meanwhile in Argentina, there will be a November 19 presidential runoff between the centre-left Massa and the far-right Milei. The three most recent polls, conducted after the conservative Bullrich endorsed Milei, suggest a close contest.