The 2021 elections were a disaster for the Biden White House and Democrats. The 2022 midterms, however, were a surprising reprieve, as Republicans vastly underperformed historical expectations. And now, 2023 was probably the strongest year yet for Biden’s Democratic Party as they managed to win nearly every closely-watched race.
Let’s take a look at those contests, starting with the two Gubernatorial elections, where both incumbents were able to win a second term.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear beat the odds to win in a ruby red state. With almost all of the precincts in, Beshear brought in 695,027 votes (52.44%) compared to Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s 630,259 votes (47.56%).
Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, with 91% of precincts in, GOP Gov. Tate Reeves received 407,686 votes (51.90%) to Democratic nominee Brandon Presley’s 367,355 votes (46.77%).
The loss is a tough blow for Cameron, who was on the verge of becoming a major Republican star. Conversely, Gov. Reeves victory was the highlight of a tough night for the GOP as was able to escape a welfare funds scandal that ensnared his predecessor as well as NFL Quarterback Brett Favre.
Over in Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin may not have officially been on the ballot, but he had a ton of potential capital at stake as he attempted to flip the State Senate. Not only did he come up short on that goal, but the Virginia GOP also lost their majority in the House of Delegates.
As a result, any long-shot 2024 hopes Younkin was holding onto were squashed by Tuesday’s contests.
One of the culprits for the GOP’s disappointment in Virginia was likely Youngkin’s proposal for a 15-week abortion ban, and abortion also happened to be on the ballot in Ohio last night. With nearly all the precincts in, the pro-choice forces won on Issue 1 by a 2,126,497 votes (56.27%) to 1,652,669 votes (43.73%) margin.
Then there was the all-important Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A seat on the Supreme Court was up for grabs in the Keystone State as Democratic nominee Daniel McCaffery faced off against Republican nominee Carolyn Carluccio.
With nearly all the precincts in, McCaffery prevailed with 1,611,947 votes (53.08%) over Carluccio’s 1,424,638 votes (46.92%). On top of that, it appears that PA Democrats are also poised to prevail in the state’s Commonwealth Court race and win the state’s two Superior Court seats.
So, altogether, it was a surprisingly successful night for President Biden and the Democratic Party at a time when they desperately needed it. After all, last Sunday’s poor New York Times poll, which found Donald Trump leading Biden in five of six battleground states, was dominating the political discourse.
In fact, a new CNN national poll that also showed Trump running ahead of Biden was featured prominently throughout their election night coverage. The bizarre dynamic of analyzing Biden’s problems while simultaneously reporting on Democratic victories mirrored former Chief of Staff Ron Klain’s reaction to the unexpectedly favorable 2022 midterms results: “Maybe we don’t suck as much as people thought.”
Of course, past success is no guarantee for the future. Take the 2015 elections, for example. That November, Pennsylvania Democrats pulled off a rare feat, winning three seats on the aforementioned State Supreme Court and taking over the majority.
Yet one year later, they not only failed to unseat incumbent GOP Senator Pat Toomey, but also lost Pennsylvania to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, providing him the electoral votes that put him over the top.
So while last night’s results gave us a great snapshot of today’s political realities, a year is still a lifetime in American politics.