Election 2023 results and analysis: Democrats excel in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is projected to win reelection in Mississippi.

Nov. 7, 2023, was Election Day in at least 37 states, and Americans cast their votes on everything from governorships to local referenda. When the dust settled, it was a solid night for Democrats and their allies: According to ABC News projections, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won reelection in Kentucky, and Ohio voters passed Issue 1 to codify abortion rights in the state constitution. The AP also projected that Democrats won both chambers of the Virginia legislature and an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. However, there were a few bright spots for Republicans: ABC News projected that Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves beat back a strong challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley.

As results came in, 538 analysts were breaking them down in real time with live updates, analysis and commentary. Read our full live blog below.


Abortion is on the ballot even when it isn’t

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, abortion rights issues have won every time they’ve been on the ballot. Tonight, we’ll see if that trend holds as Ohio voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitution.

But more broadly, abortion rights proved to be a motivator for Democratic voters in last year’s midterm elections, helping propel their party to better-than-expected midterm election results. Abortion remains an important issue for Democrats: 86 percent view it as very or somewhat important in the Oct. 25 weekly YouGov/The Economist poll. It’s a sharp contrast to Republicans, who are much less likely to support abortion rights than the general electorate, and also less likely to rank it as an important issue: only 68 percent did so in the YouGov/Economist poll.

That could keep Democrats likely to show up at the polls even when abortion is only implicitly on the ballot, like in Virginia, where Republicans have a chance to win full control of the state government. Hoping to drive turnout, Virginia Democrats have campaigned on abortion rights in competitive legislative districts this year, warning voters that Virginia could join other Southern, Republican-led states in banning abortion. Republicans in the state have denounced these efforts as fearmongering.

If the Ohio abortion-rights amendment wins and Democrats once again outperform expectations in other elections, it could be a sign that abortion is still driving Democrats to the polls. But no matter what happens tonight, abortion will likely continue to shape the presidential primary and election season that begins next year.

—Monica Potts, 538


Watch: Virginia’s legislative elections in a nutshell

If you’re trying to kill time before polls close, may I humbly recommend my video on today’s legislative elections in Virginia?

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538


Virginia may have the most important elections today

In Virginia, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the GOP-controlled House of Delegates have been at loggerheads with the Democratic-controlled state Senate since the 2021 election. But today, all 100 House seats and all 40 Senate seats are on the ballot, giving Republicans a chance of capturing a “trifecta” — control of the governorship and the entire General Assembly. Such a result would have major ramifications, most notably for abortion rights. Youngkin has pushed for a 15-week abortion ban, which would reverse Virginia’s status as the last Southern state with lesser restrictions on abortion rights.

There hasn’t been much polling, but things look highly competitive. A handful of polls in late September through late October asked likely voters if they planned to vote for a Democrat or Republican in the upcoming election and found party preferences pretty evenly split.

Control of both chambers will come down to a small number of hotly-contested districts, which look much different after the latest round of redistricting. The most competitive seats lie in suburban or exurban areas of the state’s three major metropolitan areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads. In the Senate, Democrats may have a slight edge, as they appear favored in 19 seats to the GOP’s 16. That means Republicans would need to win four of the remaining five highly competitive seats to get to a 20-20 tie (which would hand them control via Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears’s tiebreaking vote). The House map looks closer to a pure toss-up, with fewer than 10 seats likely to decide things.

—Geoffrey Skelley, 538



Welcome

Welcome to election night 2023! Polls are open today in at least 37 states, and Americans have been casting their votes on everything from governorships to local referenda. 538 analysts will be here throughout the evening to bring you live updates and analysis from races across the country.

We’ll be closely tracking returns in some of today’s biggest races, including governor’s races in Kentucky and Mississippi; state-legislative contests in Virginia, New Jersey and Mississippi; Ohio’s ballot question on whether to codify the right to abortion; a Supreme Court contest in Pennsylvania; and a handful of congressional and state-legislative special elections.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on down-ballot and local contests, like mayoral and school board elections, and we’ll be digging deeper on what these results mean — or don’t mean — for Democrats, Republicans and, of course, the 2024 election. In addition to battling over who will control state and local policy, parties and activists are testing the waters for even bigger organizing and messaging efforts heading into next year. Will abortion continue to drive Democratic turnout and enthusiasm over a year after the Dobbs decision? How will races play out in states with newly drawn maps? Will Republicans sweep all three governor’s races this fall? Will Democrats continue to overperform in special elections?

Keep this page open and stick with us to find out!

—Tia Yang, 538


The Houston mayoral race will go to a runoff

ABC News projects that no candidate will receive 50 percent in the race for mayor in Houston, meaning the race will go to a runoff. Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire and Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee will face off on Dec. 9, in what’s technically a nonpartisan election for mayor. With 54 percent of the expected vote reported, Whitmire leads with 43 percent, followed by Jackson Lee with 37 percent.

— Leah Askarinam, 538