The 10 biggest races to watch on Tuesday’s Election Day – US 247 News

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Here’s my cheat sheet on the 10 races that both election nerds and casual observers should be following to see where voters stand a year before the presidential election.

(Incumbents are named in all-caps. Previous election results via state and county election boards, The Almanac of American Politics and The Virginia Public Access Project)

kentucky governor

ANDY BESHEAR (D) vs. Daniel Cameron (R)

What we’ll learn: Whether a popular governor can defy his state’s partisan lean

Previous election (2019): Andy Beshear (D) 49%, Matt Bevin (R) 49%

2020 presidential election: Donald Trump (R) 62%, Joe Biden (D) 36%

Beshear has high approval ratings after four years as governor, especially for a Democrat. But Cameron, the state attorney general, is racing to yoke him to Biden, who lost nearly two-thirds of the vote in Kentucky in 2020 — and has only gotten less popular since.

If Beshear can win a second term, it will be thanks to a large swath of Trump voters. But if Cameron achieves a victory, it will be a sign that national politics — and enmity for Biden — is a serious danger for Democrats next year.

mississippi governor

TATE REEVES (R) vs. Brandon Presley (D)

What we’ll learn: Do Democrats have an enthusiasm problem with Black voters?

Previous election (2019): Tate Reeves (R) 52%, Jim Hood (D) 47%

2020 presidential election: Trump 58%, Biden 41%

Democrats thought they had the ingredients for an upset four years ago, when they ran Mississippi’s popular then-state attorney general, Jim Hood, in an open-seat race against Reeves, the lieutenant governor at the time.

But Hood couldn’t marshal the support among Black voters, who make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate, needed to win in the racially polarized state.

Reeves has some baggage, including the welfare funding scandal that’s also revealed hall-of-fame quarterback Brett Favre. And Presley — a distant cousin of the Tupelo-born King of Rock and Roll — is making a big investment in turning out Black voters. But the state hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1999, and Democrats are currently shut out of power in Jackson.

Ohio Issue 1

Whether to establish a right to abortion in state constitution

What we’ll learn: If the end of abortion rights is still a millstone for Republicans

2020 presidential election: Trump (R) 53%, Biden (D) 45%

Following the Supreme Court’s 2022 dobbs decision, and powered by public opinion, abortion-rights supporters have found a way to circumvent Republican legislatures that are considering restricting abortion: popular initiative.

Ohio’s statewide measure would amend the state constitution to create the right to an abortion; The state’s 2019 “trigger law” is currently on ice in the courts but would be among the strictest in the country if allowed to take effect.

Polls show the measure is likely to win, although history suggests surveys underestimate the “no” vote in ballot measures. The baseline here is an August proxy vote that would’ve established a 60-percent threshold to amend the state constitution, proposed by conservatives with the pending abortion measure in mind. It failed, 57 percent to 43 percent.

Pennsylvania state Supreme Court

Daniel McCaffery (D) vs. Carolyn Carluccio (R)

What we’ll learn: Where a critical swing state stands going into 2024

Previous election (2013): Max Baer (D) 71% (retention vote)

2020 presidential election: Biden (D) 50%, Trump (R) 49%

Unlike in Wisconsin this spring, the race for a vacant seat on Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court won’t determine the majority: There are currently four Democrats and two Republicans on the bench.

But this is an explicitly partisan race, with party ID labels on the ballot — the first statewide contest in Pennsylvania since the 2022 midterms.

Last year, Democrats won the Senate race by 5 points and the governor’s race by 15 — but those are probably outliers when it comes to discerning the Keystone State’s partisan lean ahead of the fight for its 19 electoral votes next year.

Virginia state Senate: 31st District

Russet Perry (D) vs. Juan Pablo Segura (R)

What we’ll learn: Whether Glenn Youngkin’s Republican revival continues in territory that had been rapidly trending blue

Previous election: N/A (redistricting)

2021 gubernatorial election: Glenn Youngkin (R) 50%, Terry McAuliffe (D) 49%

Democrats’ narrow majority in the state Senate is their only toehold on power in Richmond after the GOP’s 2021 victories.

This district lies at the epicenter of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s push to claw back traditionally Republican territory that had raced toward Democrats over the past decade or two. Nearly the entire district is in Loudoun County, the wealthy Northern Virginia suburbs and exurbs west of Washington.

Crime and education are the hallmarks of the Republican campaign here, although Perry’s time as a commonwealth’s attorney in Loudoun could blunt some of those attacks.

Virginia state Senate: 16th District

SIOBHAN DUNNAVANT (R) vs. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D)

What we’ll learn: Can Republicans craft a winning message on abortion?

Previous election: N/A (redistricting)

2021 gubernatorial election: Terry McAuliffe (D) 53%, Glenn Youngkin (R) 46%

A Republican sweep would allow Youngkin to enact his agenda, which includes outlawing abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the expectant mother. That’s transformed this race in the Richmond suburbs into a proxy battle over abortion rights.

VanValkenburg, a state delegate, is hitting Dunnavant, the incumbent state senator, for backing the Youngkin proposal. Dunnavant’s response ads make the case that the 15-week restriction is “not a ban” and highlights her background as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Given the district’s blue lean, Dunnavant is an underdog. An upset victory would suggest Youngkin may have found a winning GOP message on abortion. But a comfortable VanValkenberg win likely means Republicans are still grasping for a response.

Virginia state House: 57th District

Susanna Gibson (D) vs. David Owen (R)

What we’ll learn: Are sex scandals fatal in the post-Trump era?

Previous election: N/A (redistricting)

2021 gubernatorial election: Glenn Youngkin (R) 51%, Terry McAuliffe (D) 48%

We can all pretend that we’re above the prudent interest in Gibson’s electoral fortunes, after the Democratic nominee was revealed back in September to have had sex with her husband on a live-streaming porn site. But let’s get real. Of the 100 state House races, this is the first one many people are checking.

The state Republican Party sent out thousands of mailers with censored photos and quotes from Gibson’s explicit videos to highlight the scandal in the closing weeks of the race.

The race is a test of whether sex scandals are still shocking to voters. It’s competitive, suburban-Richmond territory, too: Youngkin carried it by roughly the same margin as the statewide result two years ago.

New Jersey state Senate: 3rd District

ED DURR (R) vs. John Burzichelli (D)

What we’ll learn: Can the author of 2021’s biggest electoral upset keep on truckin’?

Previous election: N/A (redistricting)

2020 presidential election: N/A

The most surprising election result of the last off-year race, in 2021, belonged to Durr, the former truck driver who beat state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Now Durr faces his first reelection bid, and there have been some bumps along the way, including condemnation from fellow South Jersey GOP candidates over controversial Facebook posts Durr made or liked about abortion.

Republicans made gains in the 2021 state legislative elections, propelled by a strong performance by GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, who came within 3 points of ousting Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

Will Murphy and Democrats snap back? The indictment of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in September isn’t going to help.

Rhode Island congressional special election: 1st District

Gabe Amo (D) vs. Gerry Leonard (R)

What we’ll learn: Whether Democrats’ special-election overperformance continues

Previous election (2022): David Cicilline (D) 64%, Allen Waters (R) 36%

2020 presidential election: Biden 64%, Trump 35%

There’s little doubt that Amo, the former Biden White House aide who won a September primary to replace Cicilline, will win Tuesday’s special election.

But the margin matters, at least as a potential 2024 indicator. Democrats have generally overperformed in special elections this year — but of the 27 such races, only one was for a congressional seat. The others were in much smaller state legislative districts.

Suffolk County (NY) executive

Ed Romaine (R) vs. Dave Calone (D)

What we’ll learn: Is New York’s red wave still going after the GOP’s 2022 midterm success?

Previous election (2019): Steve Bellone (D) 56%, John Kennedy (R) 43%

2020 presidential election: Trump (R) 49%, Biden (D) 49%

Of the nation’s 25 most-populous counties, Suffolk County, which comprises the eastern half of Long Island, is the only one Trump carried in 2020 (and he only carried it by about three-hundredths of a percentage point).

Democrats avoided a “red wave” generally in 2022, but not in New York — and especially not on Long Island, where Republicans swept the state’s four congressional seats thanks to a strong top-of-the-ticket performance by then-Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Islander who came within six points of ousting Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The race between Romaine, the Republican supervisor of Brookhaven Town, and Democratic attorney and businessperson Calone will tell us whether Republicans are still ascendant on the Island, which could have greater implications for the battle to control the House: Reps. Nick LaLota, Andrew Garbarino, George Santos and Anthony D’Esposito are all among Republicans’ most vulnerable incumbents up next year.