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2024 State Races

Sabato's Crystal Ball

Notes on the State of Politics: March 28, 2024

In this week’s edition of Notes on the State of Politics, we are extending an invite to several events the Center for Politics is holding next week (April 5-6) as part of our 25th Anniversary Gala, as well as looking at the growing number of vacancies in the House, a Democratic retirement in New Hampshire, and a notable special state House election in Alabama.

Kyle Kondik

This Year’s Key Attorney General and Secretary of State Races

The once low-profile contests for attorney general and secretary of state continue to be important for driving policy outcomes in the states, particularly in setting the rules for how elections are run. But for these races, the 2024 election cycle is looking to be relatively drama-free. In all, 13 out of the 17 races rate as either Safe Republican or Safe Democratic in our rankings, even though a whopping 9 of them involve open seats.

Louis Jacobson

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

Ohio Abortion Vote Leads List of Key 2023 Statewide Ballot Issues

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — In six states this November, voters will be asked to weigh in on statewide ballot measures. — Four states contributed to our list of key measures this year: Colorado, Ohio, Maine, and Texas. More limited measures are on the ballot in Louisiana and New York. — The key issues on the ballot in these states include abortion, recreational marijuana, taxes, and energy. Key 2023 ballot issues Voters in a handful of states across the country will find a range of ballot measures to vote on in 2023. What follows is our rundown of the key measures on voters’ ballots this year based on tracking by Ballotpedia, our own research, and interviews with political experts in many of these states. This roundup does not address every single issue on state ballots this year, but it does cover many of them (and the ones we found to be the most interesting from a national perspective). We’ve grouped them by topic. The key issues on the ballot in these states include abortion, recreational marijuana, taxes, and energy. In Texas, voters will be asked to approve big, new investments in broadband, water infrastructure, and parkland. As an off-year

Louis Jacobson

The Race for Virginia’s Legislature, Part Two

Dear Readers: This is Part Two of our series previewing the races for the Virginia state legislature. In Part One, we looked at the big-picture stakes and trends. Today, we go through the districts that we think will decide the chamber, including 10 in the House and 6 in the Senate. We would like to recognize the co-author of this piece, Jackson Hamilton, who interned with us over the summer and did important background research for this article. For more on the race for the Virginia legislature, check out our latest episode of the “Politics is Everything” podcast, which is now available wherever you get your podcasts. — The Editors KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Because of new, court-drawn maps, the 2023 Virginia election cycle has been defined by a high rate of attrition — and this is before the general election has even taken place. — Though he is not on the ballot himself, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has emerged as a visible player, using his platform to boost Republican nominees as he aims to win a GOP trifecta. — In the Democratic-held state Senate, Sens. Monty Mason (D) and Siobhan Dunnavant (R) are in competitive races, while the

J. Miles Coleman and Jackson Hamilton

The Battle for the Virginia State Legislature, Part One

Dear Readers: This is the first of a two-part Crystal Ball series on this November’s state legislative elections in Virginia. Today’s piece looks at the overall electoral picture, and Part Two will identify and analyze the key districts that will decide the majorities. — The Editors KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — In this year’s state legislative races in Virginia, Republicans are trying to do something that has become rare: forge a state government trifecta in a state that voted for the other party for president. — At first blush, Democrats would appear to have a clear edge on the map, but in an off-year election, the key districts’ presidential voting patterns overstate how Democratic they are in these legislative races. — While President Biden’s approval rating is actually worse than it was in November 2021, when Republicans scored victories in that year’s Virginia races, the political environment is likely better for Democrats now than it was back then. Virginia 2023 The stakes for this November’s state legislative elections in Virginia are probably the highest of any state-level election being conducted this year, because the election has the potential to create something that is relatively unusual in today’s nationalized politics:

Kyle Kondik

The Republicans’ ‘Excess Seat’ Edge in State Legislatures

Dear Readers: In the latest edition of our Politics is Everything podcast, we talk with the author of today’s Crystal Ball piece — Senior Columnist Louis Jacobson — about his article today on “excess seats” in state legislatures as well as his journalism career with PolitiFact, House Republicans’ recently-announced impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and much more. Listen and subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts. — The Editors KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — We analyzed 48 states to see which have the most lopsided state Senate and state House chambers compared to how the state voted for president. — Both parties have some states in which the legislative breakdown significantly exaggerates the patterns of the presidential vote. — For Democrats, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have the most “excess seats” above the presidential vote threshold. For Republicans, the list is both longer and more varied, with Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin standing out as at least somewhat competitive states where the Republicans have large excess seat advantages. — In all, Republicans have proven much more adept than Democrats at leveraging presidential vote patterns into even larger majorities in state legislative chambers. The GOP has achieved significant levels of

Louis Jacobson

Ohio’s Issue 1 Smackdown

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The pro-abortion rights/Democratic side won yet another fight related to abortion rights on Tuesday night, this time in red-trending Ohio. — Turnout was robust and likely advantaged the Democratic side. Voter participation was relatively poor across Appalachia, a once-competitive area that has become extremely Republican in recent years. — Issue 1 seemed particularly unpopular in some usually red suburban counties, although we have to remember that ballot issues and partisan races are different and that Republicans are still in a strong position in Ohio. Dissecting Ohio’s Issue 1 There is an old saying that “pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.” It is an apt description for what happened in Ohio’s Issue 1 vote on Tuesday evening. Ohio Republicans, who already dominate state government, asked voters to essentially take away their own power by raising the threshold for voters to approve statewide constitutional amendment ballot measures from a bare 50% majority to a 60% supermajority. The proposal also would have made the signature-gathering process much more difficult in order to place such amendments in front of voters. The whole point of this process was to erect an impassable barrier in front of a looming constitutional

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The 2023 and 2024 Attorney General and Secretary of State Races

Dear Readers: In the latest edition of our Politics is Everything podcast, the Crystal Ball’s J. Miles Coleman, Kyle Kondik, and Carah Ong Whaley discuss the results from Tuesday night’s Virginia state legislative primaries and look ahead to the closely-contested battle for control of both chambers coming up this fall. Listen and subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts. In today’s Crystal Ball, Senior Columnist Louis Jacobson previews another set of key state-level races for this year and next: attorneys general and secretaries of state. — The Editors KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The once low-profile contests for attorney general and secretary of state have become increasingly important for driving policy outcomes in the states, particularly in setting the rules for how elections are run. — The current campaign cycle doesn’t promise quite as much drama as there was in 2022, when several key presidential battleground states played host to tight contests between Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump and more mainstream Democrats. — For the current 2023-2024 cycle, we are starting our handicapping by assigning 18 of the 23 races to either the Safe Republican or the Safe Democratic category. Still, a number of these states

Louis Jacobson

Moving Beyond the Good Ol’ Boys Club: Recent Trends in Women’s Representation in State Legislatures

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased in recent years. However, there is still a significant gender gap in most states as women have not reached parity in representation. — The majority of women in state legislatures are Democrats. While more Republican women ran for office in 2022 than in previous years, that didn’t amount to closing the gender gap in representation. — The percentage of women in state legislatures has increased more in Western and Northeastern states than in Midwestern and Southern states. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the political climate, the level of motivation and activism among women, and the availability of resources for women’s campaigns. Changes in legislatures In a special election on May 16, Democrats maintained a narrow majority in the Pennsylvania House of Delegates. As a result, the party will be able to continue to exert control over how the lower chamber of the state legislature will handle reproductive, gun, and voting rights legislation. With Republicans still holding the Pennsylvania Senate, the House could also provide an assist to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro in budget negotiations. In House District 163, Democratic candidate

Carah Ong Whaley

A First Look at 2024 State Supreme Court Contests

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The fate of Wisconsin’s state supreme court will be decided next month. — About two-thirds of the states will have supreme court elections next year. — Key states with supreme court elections to watch in 2024 include Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio. The 2024 high court races A high-stakes state supreme court election that will determine the ideological control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to take place on April 4. The contest between liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz and conservative candidate Daniel Kelly, who was involved in the state GOP’s “fake elector” scheme after the 2020 presidential election, is on track to become the most expensive judicial race in history. Another key swing state, Pennsylvania, also has a state supreme court race this year to fill a currently-vacant seat previously held by late Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat. Democrats still have a 4-2 edge on the court, so they would retain the majority even if Republicans win the seat later this year. With growing attention being given to the role of state courts in determining political representation and other key issues, we look ahead to state supreme court elections in

Carah Ong Whaley