• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG

In this edition: An hour-by-hour guide to today’s elections, fresh poll trauma for Democrats, and th͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
sunny Houston
sunny Richmond
sunny Indianapolis
rotating globe
November 7, 2023


Sign up for our free newsletters
David Weigel

Your hour-by-hour guide to Tuesday’s elections

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


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.
YouTube/Joe Hogsett for Indianapolis

Hogsett for Indianapolis, “This.” How blue does a city need to be before a Republican candidate can’t win it? Hogsett is testing the limit, weighing down GOP challenger Shreve with his Trump associations, from a spot at the 2016 convention in Cleveland to donations to “election deniers” to a recap of the accusations against the 45th president. The message: A vote for this different kind of Republican is still a vote for Trump.

Protect Women Ohio, “Coach.” The anti-abortion campaign to beat Issue 1 has hammered away at its language to warn of all kinds of parental nightmares, from “sex change surgery” without parents’ consent to this dark story of a soccer coach secretly impregnating a player then paying for her abortion by pretending to be her father. The scandal, if Issue 1 passes: The coach could do all this without having to pose as the player’s dad in the clinic.

Democratic Majority for Israel, “History and Humanity.” Israel’s allies in the PAC world are already moving against Democratic critics of the Gaza war — and against Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in the House, in particular. She has no primary challenger, but DMFI is trying to coax one in, attacking Tlaib’s votes against pro-Israel resolutions and using a clip of Fox News chasing her through House office buildings to ask why she won’t condemn terrorism more forcefully.


The New York Times poll has the power to instill uncommon fear in Democrats. It happened around this time four years ago, when trial heats in swing states found Biden beating Trump while Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders lost to him. Neither Biden challenger ever shook that off. Across six swing states, all of them won by Biden in 2020, the Times poll finds Trump ahead, Biden doing worse in a square-off with Haley, and DeSantis running close to Trump’s numbers. Haley’s campaign has celebrated her numbers as proof she’s the surest bet against Biden in the field, but Trump has never polled this well this far from an election.

Will there be a competitive GOP primary by Super Tuesday? If there is, Utah, where Trump has always underperformed other Republicans, remains the most promising state for one of his challengers to pull something off. His support has hovered between 23% and 33% all year, and two-thirds of primary voters want an alternative but don’t like their choices. DeSantis, who actually led Trump by 8 points here before he entered the primary, has shed half of his support to other candidates, mostly Haley.

Florida’s primary won’t take place until March 19, two weeks after Super Tuesday. Its Republican primary voters love DeSantis as governor; they want his wife, Casey, to succeed him, and 68% say that a DeSantis endorsement would help them make their minds up about who to vote for. But they love Trump much, much more. DeSantis loses every demographic to Trump, after leading with most of them in March, before his campaign started. He does best with voters under 35, losing them 2-1, and voters with college degrees, losing them by 23 points — by just 14 points if the race narrowed down to only him and Trump.

REUTERS/Rachel Mummey

White House. Six Republican presidential candidates qualified for tomorrow night’s NBC-hosted debate in Miami. Five of them — DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy, Christie and Scott — will show up.

Trump, as usual, will hold a counter-programming rally down the road; this time in Hialeah, an overwhelmingly Latino city where his vote share improved massively from 2016 to 2020, where Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will endorse him.

DeSantis will arrive with the best news his campaign got in weeks — the endorsement of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who he courted for months, and who came over after Trump repeatedly derided her as yet another disloyal Republican who owed her career to him. (She took over as governor after Trump made her predecessor, Terry Branstad, his ambassador to China.)

“We [need] not only need somebody that can win, but we need somebody that has the skill and the resolve, which he clearly does, to reverse the madness that we see happening across this country,” Reynolds told NBC News. She appeared at DeSantis’s launch event in May, and joined him at a car rally after his Iowa State Fair appearance, angering the Trump team and highlighting how popular she was with GOP caucus-goers.

Her endorsement came as DeSantis was in a real fight for second place with Haley, who sailed through the Ramaswamy-focused first debate and dunked on the Ohio businessman throughout the second. On Tuesday morning, her campaign put out a compilation of DeSantis “lies” from the trail, highlighting Florida’s fracking and offshore drilling bans, a topic she’d hit on in the second debate in September. (“He always talks about what happens on day one,” Haley had said. “You better watch out, because what happens on day two is when you’re in trouble.”)

DeSantis and allies have portrayed Haley as a distraction who can’t put an anti-Trump coalition together. They’re ready to follow up on the paid advertising that Never Back Down put on air last month, accusing Haley of flip-flopping on potential Middle East refugees, and of welcoming Chinese business in South Carolina before she turned against it.

Scott, who was one poll away from missing the debate stage, has started to bait Haley, too. At the Florida GOP’s “Freedom Summit” in Orlando, Scott said that Haley was “seeking support from moderates and the mainstream media” to run as a moderate, one who conservatives couldn’t trust.

“She is leaving conservatism behind — on life, social issues, and key principles,” Scott said. “She is playing for the Never Trump lane. It won’t unite the party. It can’t win in 2024.”

Senate. Ex-Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer entered the race to replace retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, encouraging Republicans who worry that a MAGA candidate can’t win statewide. His is the second political comeback attempt by a Republican who lost a primary after voting to impeach Trump, but the first attempt to return to D.C.; ex-Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is running for state lands commissioner. In an interview with Real America’s Voice, Meijer said he’d vote for Trump in 2024 if he became the GOP nominee. “That’s going to make a lot of the Lincoln Project and Never Trump folks very, very unhappy,” he said.

  • One day until the third Republican presidential primary debate
  • 69 days until the Iowa Republican caucuses
  • 109 days until the South Carolina Republican primary
  • 364 days until the 2024 presidential election
Hot on Semafor
  • TikTok is telling advertisers that #Israel is trending, but not #Palestine.
  • A new Democratic strategy group is out with its first polling — a warning that Biden’s focus on “jobs” is getting him nowhere.
  • A company whose floating power ships switched off electricity to two of Africa’s poorest cities says it’s in talks with six more countries to expand across the continent.
  • Key providers of satellite photographs to news organizations have begun to restrict imagery of Gaza after a New York Times report on Israeli tank positions.