December 2, 2023

Abortion looms over Ohio, Virginia elections

Abortion rights loom over Ohio, Virginia elections


Virginia Democrats succeeded in holding their majority in the state Senate on Tuesday, but control of the House of Delegates was still not settled late Tuesday, with vote counting still taking place in key races.

The Democrats’ victory in the upper chamber ended the prospect of a Republican trifecta that would have allowed Gov. Glenn Youngkin to swiftly move on his conservative policy agenda that Senate Democrats have been able to thwart in his first two years in office. The chamber has been under Democratic control since 2020.

Every General Assembly seat was on the ballot in this year’s election cycle.

Virginia is one of just four states holding legislative races this year, and it’s something of a microcosm of other closely divided states that will be critical in next year’s presidential election. That has fueled outsized interest in the legislative races, as both parties are closely monitoring the results for signs about voter moods heading into the 2024 campaign.

Virginia Democrats largely centered their campaigns around pledges to protect abortion rights. Virginia is the only state in the South that has not enacted new restrictions on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The results could comfort the national party as President Joe Biden and other Democrats are expected to prioritize abortion rights in next year’s campaign to energize their voters.

Republicans centered their messages around issues like lowering taxes, supporting parental involvement in schools, rolling back Democrat-sponsored clean energy mandates and improving public safety. On abortion, many GOP candidates in the most competitive swing districts coalesced around Youngkin’s proposed 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The full slate of candidates ran for the first time this year under new maps created during the latest redistricting process. Flipping the Senate had been seen by most strategists in both parties as a tougher climb for Republicans than holding the House.

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