Virginia Democrats achieved a political turnaround in Tuesday’s legislative elections, successfully flipping the House of Delegates while narrowly retaining control of the State Senate. The outcomes significantly impact the future of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda, specifically his hopes of passing a 15-week abortion ban.
The results also have far-reaching implications for the Republican Party, as Youngkin’s aspirations for a presidential run dimmed. The governor had previously touted his abortion stance as a sensible middle ground within his party. However, with Democrats now firmly in control of both legislative chambers in Virginia, his ability to advance this agenda likely has been stymied.
The Democratic Party scored victories in Virginia on Tuesday that not only saw them maintain their narrow hold on the State Senate but secure control of the House of Delegates. Since 2021, Republicans had held a 48-to-46 majority in the House.
Democrats also celebrated significant victories in states like New Jersey, where they will retain their comfortable majorities in the state legislature, with Republican candidates facing losses even in traditionally conservative areas of the state.
In Pennsylvania, Democrats secured a seat on the state Supreme Court, strengthening their majority. The court’s jurisdiction over lawsuits related to the 2024 election in a key swing state adds to the significance of this victory. Nationally, Democrats continued to build on their recent electoral successes, which began with last year’s midterms and persisted through most of this year’s special elections, held to fill unexpectedly vacant posts.
The Party enjoyed a solid political performance despite President Joe Biden’s relatively low approval ratings. In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear was re-elected in a predominantly red state, emphasizing his support for abortion rights and the economic benefits of Biden administration policies. The election saw Beshear secure 53 percent of the vote against his Republican opponent, Daniel Cameron’s 48 percent. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and former President Donald Trump backed Cameron’s bid. The Republican secretary of state easily won re-election in Kentucky after previously rejecting false claims of voter fraud from Trump. In Derby, Conn., a Republican facing trespassing charges at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 lost his bid for the mayoral office.
In Ohio, an increasingly conservative state, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment allowing abortion until roughly 23 weeks of pregnancy, with a 57 percent to 43 percent vote. Ohio also became the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Perhaps one of the most sensational electoral victories occurred in New York, where Yusef Salaam, one of the “Central Park Five,” secured a seat on the New York City Council. Salaam, wrongfully convicted for a 1989 attack on a jogger, won the election without opposition after easily winning the Democratic primary earlier this year. Salaam, along with four other Black and Latino men, was wrongfully convicted for the 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park, an incident that gained national attention, including the involvement of Trump, then a New York-based real estate magnate, who had called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in response to the attack.
DNA evidence later exonerated Salaam and his co-defendants.