Predictions for Tonight's Elections
A Democrat overperformance (and overreaction) seem likely
I think tonight’s election will show better than expected results for Democrats. I also predict that Dems will read too much into their relatively minor wins.
-Democrats gain in the Virginia House of Delegates and hold their position in the state senate. I think there is a strong likelihood that they even flip the house in VA but it will be close.
-Democrat Andy Beshear hangs on as Governor in Kentucky but results will be relatively close (within 5 points)
- Republican Tate Reeves wins a second term in Mississippi. I don’t think this will be as close as KY.
-Ohio legalizes marijuana and abortion by overwhelming majorities (15+ point victory on both issues).
Why do I think Democrats will overperform? For one, Trump isn’t on the ballot and the GOP, in my view, is listless without him. My read is that Republicans are running on the same issues that resulted in an underwhelming performance in 2022: inflation and crime (vaguely).
Youngkin has also spent too much time talking about abortion while campaigning which is a massive mistake. Abortion is, by far, the single most popular issue that Democrats run on. Nothing gets unmarried White women to the polls like the possibility of expanding the right to kill a child in the womb. That demographic is crucial for liberals and very politically active. In a low turnout election like this one, I think women will carry liberals to stronger than expected results.
I also think Republicans have overestimated the importance of economic issues like inflation. The people who are really mad about inflation are already voting Republican and the GOP doesn’t have many actual solutions on this issue to pitch to voters who aren’t already in their camp. The economy isn’t great but it also isn’t at 2008 levels of meltdown. It isn’t clear the GOP has a clear message to run on here other than saying “inflation is bad” which everyone already knows.
It also doesn’t help that, at the state level, the GOP is incredibly weak-knee’d virtually everywhere. Voters aren’t inspired by milquetoast proclamations about taxes and small business.
The issues that get voters to the polls for the Right are the issues of national survival: immigration, trade, non-intervention, and harsh on crime policies. Republicans are vaguely against crime but they don’t hammer the issue the way they should. I think candidates focusing on transgender issues and culture war stuff (like Youngkin) are mostly a poor bet. They win sometimes but they generally don’t have the punch to really make a difference.
It is also the case that in Virginia there are new maps as part of the redistricting. It seems to me that the maps favor the Democrats. It is also the case that Democrats have spent 15 times as much money on these races as they did in 2019. Virginia is also a blue state and generally getting bluer. Therefore, I think it is possible the Democrats eke out a small minority in both houses in VA.
As for Kentucky: Beshear appears popular and has the advantage of incumbancy. I hadn’t heard of the Republican challenger until today… that doesn’t bode well. I get that Kentucky is a conservative state (in some ways) but southerners tend to like having some Democrats around in state offices. It is also the case that Beshear has been targeting Republican candidate Cameron on abortion. Again, abortion is a winning issue for Democrats. I think there is a lot of wind left in the post-Roe v. Wade sails for the Left. Beshear also has five times as much money as Cameron.
I don’t think it will be a blowout but I foresee Beshear winning.
As for Mississippi, personally, I don’t see a Democrat, even if he is Elvis Presley’s cousin, winning the governor’s office. Simple as that.
The easiest elections to predict, in my view, are the ballot initiatives in Ohio on abortion and marijuana. Again, abortion is a winner for Democrats virtually everywhere that it has been on the ballot. In August, Ohio voters shot down a ballot proposal designed to make it harder to amend the constitution (a thinly veiled attempt to thwart abortion rights in the state). That proposal got show down in a 15 point smackdown. I expect something similar tonight.
Democrats are going to post some W’s tonight, I think, but they’re also going to read the results the wrong way. 2024 isn’t going to be about abortion so much as it will be about Trump’s MAGA message and Biden’s increasingly failing health. I believe the polls saying that if the election were held today then Biden would lose. Hell, I think he lost in 2020, too.
Of course, maybe I’m too much of a negative nancy. In fairness, I predicted a Republican blowout in 2022 and got burned. In private, I was more sensible but that doesn’t count! I would love to be wrong now, though. I will happily eat crow if the GOP wins big.