Kentucky. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear is projected to win re-election over Republican Daniel Cameron, the state’s attorney general.
Ohio. Issue 1, which would enshrine a right to abortion access into the state’s constitution, appears set to pass by a wide margin. Issue 2, which would legalize recreational marijuana, is also projected to pass.
Virginia. Democrats are projected to hold the state senate, according to Cook Political Report analyst Dave Wasserman.
In Virginia, they’re called the “off-off-off year” elections, because most voters don’t show up. In Kentucky, the state legislature isn’t on the ballot for another 12 months. In Houston, America’s fourth-biggest city, everyone knows that the real race, the runoff, comes after Thanksgiving.
Today’s races have some high stakes — the future of abortion rights in Richmond and Columbus, control of key election offices in Pennsylvania. There will also, inevitably, be attempts to translate what voters do in these races to how they’ll vote in 2024. A Republican sweep in Virginia would embolden Joe Biden’s critics; a Democratic upset in Mississippi would challenge conventional thinking about the Black vote.
Here’s what we will know, and what to watch, hour by hour. All times are Eastern.
6 p.m. Polls close in 78 counties across eastern Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is seeking re-election against Republican Attorney Gen. Daniel Cameron. Beshear, who won by just over 5,000 votes in 2019, has been the favorite all year, but both parties have dismissed public polling that showed him well ahead. They each see a race closer to the final Emerson poll, a dead heat between a Trump-endorsed Republican and a Democrat who’s been kept in check by the GOP legislature.
Last time, Beshear built a rickety coalition to unseat an unpopular GOP governor, and carried 19 eastern Kentucky counties won by Trump. Most were ancestral Democratic areas that Republicans usually win now, like Floyd County; two of them, Campbell and Kenton counties, contain Cincinnati suburbs that have trended left. Eleven counties backed Beshear for governor and Cameron for attorney general. The race isn’t over until polls close in western Kentucky one hour later, but the first hour’s results will tell us if Cameron has broken through — and done so even as Beshear has pummeled him for supporting the state’s unpopular abortion ban. (A 2022 vote against an anti-abortion initiative ran behind Beshear’s 2019 vote in eastern Kentucky, but ahead of it in much of the state.)
Polls will close in most of Indiana, too, including Indianapolis, where Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett is seeking a third term as crime falls from its pandemic surge; Republican businessman Jefferson Shreve has outspent him nearly three-to-one, and has defied the National Rifle Association by endorsing new gun controls. Thirty minutes up the road, in Carmel, Democrat Miles Nelson is trying to win a historically Republican mayor’s office by linking his opponent to Moms for Liberty.
7 p.m. Polls close across Kentucky and Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin has led the best-funded Republican legislative campaign in the history of the commonwealth — at least $34 million raised for candidates, and more spent through PACs. Democrats raised even more, helped in the final stretch, they say, by coverage of what the election could mean for Republicans: Flip two Senate seats, and they might pass a 15-week abortion ban, and activate the smitten mega-donors who want Youngkin to run for president.
Just a handful of Senate races are competitive, and the clearest path to a working majority for Republicans is beating Sen. Monty Mason in the 24th district and electing Juan Pablo Segura in the 31st district — both seats carried by Youngkin in 2021, by three points and by one point, after Joe Biden carried them in 2020. (Democratic congressional candidates won them in 2022.) If Republicans are having a breakthrough night, they’ll win the 16th district, outside Richmond, which Youngkin lost by 7 points; the party’s thrilled by how Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, an OB-GYN, has messaged on abortion. Early voting still skews Democratic in Virginia, and close races could take days to decide, as both parties hurry to “cure” rejected ballots.
Polls close in much of New Hampshire, too, including the city of Manchester, where Democratic Mayor Joyce Craig is retiring to run for governor. Her 2017 win was part of a run of urban and suburban Democratic wins in the state, which kept up through special elections this year; Republican Jay Ruais grabbed 42% in the first round of voting, while Kevin Cavanaugh and two other Democrats split the rest.
7:30 p.m. Polls close across Ohio, where passage of Issue 1 would write abortion rights into the state constitution, and passage of Issue 2 would legalize marijuana. Both measures have been leading in public polling, but abortion rights opponents had more time to message this choice than they did to spin the August referendum on whether to make it harder to pass amendments altogether.
Had that passed, and the threshold risen from a simple majority to 60%, both measures would be favored to fail today. Abortion rights opponents, outspent in the summer, were outspent again, but got more help from Republicans this time — including ads with Gov. Mike DeWine and some confusing ballot language from Secretary of State Frank LaRose. As in Virginia, expect progressives to dominate the early vote, and conservatives to catch up as Election Day votes are counted.
8 p.m. Polls close in Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and most of Texas. Mississippi’s Tate Reeves is the only other governor on the ballot today, and has led in every poll against Democrat Brandon Presley, as Presley’s party poured resources into the race. (Three-quarters of his funding came from outside Mississippi, a fact that Reeves hammered in ad after ad.)
Reeves won his 2019 race with just 52% of the vote, and Presley is trying to win outright or push him into a runoff; independent Gwendolyn Gray has endorsed the Democrat, but her name’s still on the ballot. Republicans haven’t lost a race for governor in this century, and to do so, Reeves would need to underperform his 2019 margins in the Gulf Coast and the northeast while Presley increases turnout in majority-Black counties.
In New Jersey, Republicans need to flip seven seats to win the General Assembly, and are targeting districts that were close in the 2021 race for governor, when Democratic turnout cratered. In Pennsylvania, Democrats have narrowly outspent Republicans in the race to fill a vacant Democratic seat on the state supreme court; they’ve warned that Carolyn Carluccio, the GOP-backed candidate would narrow the majority that rejected Trump’s election challenges and a gerrymandered House map.
Republicans are also charging hard in Allegheny County, which has been trending toward Democrats but where progressives won the party’s nominations for county executive and district attorney. Businessman Joe Rockey is facing state Rep. Sara Innamorato for the first job, and current DA Stephen Zappala is facing Democrat Matt Dugan after winning the GOP ballot line with write-in votes.
Rhode Island will fill a vacancy in the Providence-based 1st Congressional District, where Democrat Gabe Amo is favored; Biden carried the seat by 29 points. And in Houston, the crowded race for mayor will probably head to a runoff between state Sen. John Whitmire and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee.
9 p.m. Polls close in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and New York, where the most competitive races are for control of school boards, county offices, and city halls. Moms for Liberty and its allies are working to flip school boards in Iowa’s most populous counties; progressives in Minneapolis, who lost ground in local races two years ago, are trying to regain and defeat city council president Andrea Jenkins — a Black trans woman who’s asked, sarcastically, how beating her will end “racism.” Republicans gained substantially in last year’s suburban New York races, and are trying to make more inroads this year — watch Buffalo’s Erie County, where the GOP has focused on migrants being shipped up from the U.S.-Mexico border.
10 p.m. Voting wraps up in Utah, where Republican nominee Celeste Maloy is favored to replace her old boss, ex-Rep. Chris Stewart, in the 2nd Congressional District. Maloy defeated a more moderate Republican in the primary, setting up a typically partisan-polarized race against Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe; Trump carried that district by 17 points.
11. p.m. Voting ends in Washington, where conservative Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward was denounced by the city council’s progressives after appearing at a Christian nationalist “Let Us Worship” rally. Democrat Lisa Brown, who carried the city in her losing 2018 congressional campaign, ran well ahead of Woodward in the election’s first round. The incumbent has warned that Brown would make the city’s homelessness crisis worse; a measure to ban camping on city-owned land is on the ballot, too.
12 a.m. Polls close in Alaska, where there’s one more school board fight — a battle for control of the Mat-Su borough, after its board removed some books from libraries and some students walked out to protest. The community, home to Sarah Palin, is usually a conservative stronghold.
- In Politico, Jonathan Martin follows Kentucky’s next political star on the trail – TBD on whether that’s Beshear or Cameron.
- In Mississippi Today, Taylor Vance watches Reeves and Presley close out their race.
- For NPR, Jahd Khalil explains why national Republicans are expecting so much out of Virginia.
- In Bolts, Daniel Nichanian goes even further down the ballot — no school board or bond referendum left behind.