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2023 Governor

Sabato's Crystal Ball

Notes on the State of the 2023 Elections

Dear Readers: We wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving; the Crystal Ball will not be publishing next week. Before we move full speed into assessing 2024, we wanted to take a quick look back at a few notable findings from last week’s elections — specifically in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. — The Editors Virginia result looked a lot like four years ago Vote counts in Virginia are nearly final but not yet certified. There were no late changes to the topline result that seemed likeliest the morning after the election: Democrats won their barest possible majorities in both chambers: 51-49 in the state House of Delegates and 21-19 in the state Senate. There has been a “choose your own adventure” aspect to interpreting the results, ranging from the elections being a devastating rebuke to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) — because he invested so much political capital into winning unified control of Richmond only to come up short — to the outcome actually being a great sign for Republicans because their candidates ran well ahead of the 2020 presidential results in many places. After looking more closely at the numbers, our own assessment is that the result was… very familiar.

Kyle Kondik

Elections 2023: Democrats Enjoy a Strong Night

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Democrats won five of the six key races we were watching in Tuesday night’s elections, turning in a strong showing just a couple of days after a series of bad polls for President Joe Biden left some Democrats shook as the presidential race looms next year. — The 2023 elections have limited predictive value, in large part because of the key differences between the Tuesday night results and what we should expect next year in the states we were watching. Sifting through last night’s results Political news over the weekend was dominated by the release of New York Times/Siena College polling that showed President Joe Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in several key 2024 battlegrounds. The polls contained some eye-popping and frankly hard-to-believe crosstabs showing Biden doing very poorly for a Democrat among both young and nonwhite voters — although it is worth noting that such findings are hardly limited to those polls. A couple of days later, the United States went to the polls for an off-year election. There were a half-dozen key races we were watching: the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial races; an abortion rights ballot issue in Ohio; a Pennsylvania

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

A 2023 Election Mega-Preview

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The key races we’re watching next week are gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi, the state legislative contests in Virginia, an abortion-related ballot issue in Ohio, and a state Supreme Court race in Pennsylvania. — We continue to favor incumbent Govs. Andy Beshear (D-KY) and Tate Reeves (R-MS) in next week’s gubernatorial elections, even as upsets are possible in either. — If the abortion rights vote in Ohio is close, some key Obama-to-Trump counties may tell the tale of the election, while partisan loyalties in Pennsylvania may be a bit weaker in the court race than in a federal race. The red state governor races After Louisiana’s contest was settled after a single round of balloting in last month’s jungle primary, the only two gubernatorial races on tap for next week are in a pair of red states: Kentucky and Mississippi. Since we first looked at Kentucky, we’ve rated it as Leans Democratic, while Mississippi has been at Likely Republican for most of that time. Part of our thinking is that we see Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) as favored in large part because of the partisan lean of his state, while we see Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) favored

J. Miles Coleman and Kyle Kondik

Louisiana 2023: The Road to Saturday’s Primary

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — On Saturday, Louisiana voters will go to the polls to begin selecting a replacement for term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA). — In the all-party primary, state Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has been the frontrunner for much of the campaign and will likely advance to a runoff. — The state Democratic establishment has thrown its weight behind former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, who will probably join Landry in a runoff. — Despite Edwards’s success in recent gubernatorial elections, many of the dynamics that favored him in 2015 and 2019 are now absent. The Crystal Ball rates the race as Likely Republican. Previewing Louisiana’s Saturday primary In the 2022 midterm elections, one area where Democrats most obviously beat historical expectations were the gubernatorial contests. Despite defending several marginal states, Democrats came out with a net gain of governorships. While it was impressive that Democrats held up well in states that are typically competitive — such examples include Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin — their overall net gain was due to flipping a pair of solidly blue northeastern states: Maryland and Massachusetts. In the former, Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) was term-limited while, in the latter, Gov. Charlie

J. Miles Coleman

The Dwindling Crossover Governorships

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Despite an increasing correlation between presidential and down-ballot results, there are still nine governors who govern states that their party did not win for president. That means there is a higher percentage of crossover governors than crossover members of the Senate and House. — Still, the number of crossover governors was higher in the recent past. — While there are lots of moving pieces, including what happens in the 2024 presidential election, we could see even more of a decline in the number of crossover governors in this cycle’s gubernatorial elections. Assessing the crossover governorships New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) announcement last week that he will not seek a fifth two-year term as the Granite State’s governor gives Democrats a key takeover target next year. But his departure might also help reduce the dwindling number of “crossover” state governors. We often note the number of House and Senate seats where the winner of the district or state is of a different party than the party that won the district or state for president in the most recent election. There is a greater share of crossover governors than crossover House and Senate members, but the

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: July 13, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. Today, we’re taking a quick look at gubernatorial races in Washington and New Hampshire, as well as a flood of losing 2022 House candidates seeking redemption in 2024. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating change Governor Old Rating New Rating WA Open (Inslee, D) Safe Democratic Likely Democratic Governors: Washington state and (possibly) New Hampshire getting more competitive? Last week, former Rep. Dave Reichert (R, WA-8) entered Washington state’s open-seat gubernatorial contest. Reichert, who represented the suburban Seattle 8th District for several terms, gives Republicans a strong name in a state that Joe Biden carried by a 58%-39% margin in 2020 and is expected to easily carry again. Under Washington state’s open primary system, all candidates run on the same primary ballot and the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to a general election. With three-term Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee stepping aside, the two strongest candidates vying to replace him have been a pair of sitting statewide Democrats: state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state Land Commissioner Hilary Franz. With Reichert in the race,

J. Miles Coleman and Kyle Kondik

2024 Governors Races: A First Look

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — North Carolina’s open-seat race is clearly the marquee contest of 2024’s gubernatorial races. It starts as a Toss-up. — The other contests start with clear favorites despite several open seats. — If popular Republican incumbents run for another term, the GOP should be in great shape to hold New Hampshire and Vermont. But they would be great Democratic opportunities as open seats. — Mississippi moves to Likely Republican following the entry of a credible Democratic candidate after our initial 2023 rating release last week. Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating change Governor Old Rating New Rating Tate Reeves (R-MS) Safe Republican Likely Republican Map 1: Crystal Ball 2023/2024 gubernatorial ratings The 2024 gubernatorial races Following up on our initial 2023 gubernatorial ratings post from last week, we’ll look a bit further down the road with a survey of 2024’s races. Our home state, Virginia, will be at the center of the action — sort of. This year, the key contest will be our neighbor to the west, Kentucky. In 2024, our southern neighbor, North Carolina, will likely be the most hotly contested gubernatorial contest. The 2022 cycle proved to be a banner year for

J. Miles Coleman

The 2023 Governor Races

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — While it’s easy to begin looking towards the 2024 election cycle, 3 states will have gubernatorial contests this year. — In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear remains personally popular, but he will be running in a red state with a large GOP bench. — Louisiana and Mississippi should be easier contests for Republicans. Term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) will be hard for Democrats to replace, while Mississippi, where Democrats have not won a gubernatorial contest this century, will also be an uphill fight for them. — The initial ratings for these 3 races are Leans Democratic for Kentucky, Safe Republican for Mississippi, and Likely Republican for Louisiana. Rating the 2023 gubernatorial races With the 2022 midterms finally in the books, it’s time to start looking to the 2024 presidential race. Just kidding. While we will have no shortage of 2024 content on tap, 2023 will see many of its own elections. In our own backyard, this November’s legislative races in Virginia, where each party narrowly controls a chamber of the legislature, will have implications for the commonwealth. Democrats may be feeling more confident after Tuesday night, as they flipped a marginal state Senate seat in the

J. Miles Coleman