Newsline , Society

Off-Year Elections Enter Final Week With Key Questions Still Unanswered

Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2023
by AMAC Newsline

AMAC Exclusive – By B.C. Brutus

Glenn Youkin, Governor of Virginia speaking, ahead of election

Voters will head to the polls next Tuesday to cap off an unusually eventful off-year election cycle that could have major implications for 2024 races up and down the ballot.

The most watched races this summer and fall have been Virginia’s legislative elections, where Republicans are looking to build off of their success in 2021 by holding the House of Delegates and retaking the State Senate.

Prior to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s election two years ago, no Republican had won statewide in the Old Dominion since 2009, and Joe Biden carried the state by 10 points in 2020. Many mainstream political pundits believed that the population explosion in Northern Virginia’s deep blue counties made the once solidly Republican state a lost cause for the GOP.

Youngkin is challenging that narrative and looking to prove that 2021 wasn’t a one-off. Generic ballot polling has the race dead even, and control of both legislative chambers will likely come down to a few toss-up races.

Two elements of this year’s races in particular are worth paying attention to when the votes are counted next week.

The first is whether or not Youngkin’s “Secure Your Vote Virginia” initiative is successful in boosting Republicans’ early and mail-in vote totals – and if it proves decisive for GOP candidates. The governor has staked serious political capital on the effort, and his Spirit of Virginia PAC has poured millions of dollars into encouraging Republicans to cast their votes early.

There are some encouraging signs that Youngkin’s early vote push is having its intended effect with one week to go. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Republican voters have so far cast nearly 39 percent of in-person early votes – a more than eight percent increase compared to the same time period in 2021. Virginia Republicans have seen a more modest gain of 4 percent when it comes to mail-in voting.

Virginia’s races will also offer some vital insights into how abortion is influencing elections more than a year after the Dobbs decision. In the closing weeks of the race, Virginia Democrats have leaned almost exclusively on abortion messaging and claims that Republicans want to ban the practice.

While many Republicans elsewhere in the country have sought to avoid the abortion debate entirely, Virginia Republicans, led by Youngkin, have staked out a clear position – protections for unborn life after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk. At the same time, they have sought to turn the tables on Virginia Democrats and paint them as abortion extremists for prior efforts to pass legislation legalizing abortion up until the moment of birth.

Republicans believe that their policy represents a common-sense compromise position that will be a winner with voters. How well GOP candidates do in suburban districts around Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Washington, D.C. in particular – all areas that Youngkin relied on to win in 2021 – will put that theory to the test.

Abortion is explicitly on the ballot in Ohio, where voters will decide whether or not to add an amendment to the state constitution creating a right to so-called “reproductive decisions.” As AMAC Newsline has previously reported, the amendment, while appearing moderate on the surface, uses deceptively vague language to create, in effect, a right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy.

The contests in both Ohio and Virginia will be a test of conservatives’ ability to cut through liberal dishonesty when it comes to messaging on abortion. In Virginia, Democrats have falsely claimed that Republicans want a blanket ban on the practice and would even outlaw miscarriage care. In Ohio, Democrats and liberal groups have sought to portray the proposed amendment to the state constitution as more moderate than it actually is in an underhanded attempt to fool voters.

Three other states, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey, also have legislative elections next week, although there isn’t much suspense as to which party will emerge with control of the government.

In New Jersey, Democrats have held the governorship and both legislative chambers since 2018 and currently hold a 25-15 edge in the Senate and a 46-34 edge in the General Assembly. Republicans have a legislative supermajority in both Louisiana and Mississippi. None of those party breakdowns is expected to shift much.

There are also two gubernatorial races that will be decided next week, one in Mississippi and one in Kentucky. (Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry already secured the governorship of the Pelican State on October 14 by winning more than 50 percent of the vote in the state’s open primary.)

In Mississippi, the big question is whether incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves will secure the required 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff of his own on November 28. Democrat challenger Brandon Pressley has polled surprisingly well, and the presence of a third-party candidate on the ballot is siphoning votes away from both candidates. However, if enough undecided voters break for Reeves on Election Day, he could still secure the governorship on the first ballot.

Things are a bit more dicey for Republicans in Kentucky, where Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron is running to unseat incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear. Beshear is surprisingly popular in a state that is otherwise deep red, and he has held a steady lead over Cameron in the polls. With a week to go, Cameron’s camp is hoping for strong numbers with undecided voters and a somewhat significant polling error to eke out a victory.

2024 candidates and voters will no doubt be watching all of these races closely as a precursor of what’s to come next year.

B.C. Brutus is the pen name of a writer with previous experience in the legislative and executive branches.

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5 months ago

Who in their right mind would vote for ANY candidate endorsed by Jackass Joe Biden? This clown has done more to DESTROY AMERICAN VALUES than ANY OF OUR SUPPOSED ENEMIES! . . . I will NEVER ACCEPT OR RECOGNIZE Jackass Joe Biden as a LEGALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT and hope to live long enough to see him prosecuted and found guilty as such.

A Voter
A Voter
5 months ago

I detest early voting. I detest mail in voting unless the votes are coming from citizens abroad who can not get to a poll to vote. It just seems to me that allowing early voting gives the opposition too much time to figure out how many votes they need to “manufacture” to win before election day comes.
A better plan would be to simply make election day a national holiday.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
5 months ago

When Trump was POTUS, I used to eat King Crab now and again with my steak; now I’m lucky if I get the steak! Hopefully, the cost of abortions has gone up exponentially as well so even they will vote “economy”. The cost of life affects everyone!

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