Welcome to Election Night 2023! The Pluribus News team is keeping an eye on all the hot races up for election today, from the showdown for control of the Virginia legislature to hot battles for governor in Kentucky and Mississippi, from a constitutional amendment in Ohio to a fight over public utilities in Maine.
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Latest updates on top.
12:02 a.m.: Virginia
Democrats have won control of both chambers of Virginia’s legislature, according to projections from the Virginia Public Access Project. There are still three House of Delegates seats and one Senate race left to decide. We’ll check in on those in the morning.
You can read our full story on Virginia results here.
That’s it for us tonight (really this time). Thanks for joining us!
12:02 a.m.: Mississippi
Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has won re-election over Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D). With 87% of the votes in, Reeves leads with 52.4% of the vote, enough to win outright and avoid a runoff. Presley took 45.7%, and a third candidate who withdrew from the race but remained on the ballot, Gwendolyn Gray, claimed 1.9%.
Here’s our story on the nastiest governor’s race of the cycle.
11:19 p.m.: Virginia
Democrats had an extremely good night in the Commonwealth — though we won’t know exactly how good until a few more races get called, and to be frank, some of us need to go to bed so we can produce Pluribus AM in the morning.
Here’s where things stand just after 11 p.m: The Associated Press has called 20 races for Democratic candidates in the 40-seat Senate. State Sen. Aaron Rouse (D) leads his Republican rival by about 10 percentage points with almost all votes counted, meaning Democrats are likely to hold at least 21 seats. Sen. Monty Mason (D) is trailing his Republican rival, Danny Diggs, by 51 votes with one precinct and 2,432 early votes left to tally.
In the House of Delegates, Democrats have, at the very least, ended the Republican majority. Democrats had won at least 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, and Democratic candidates lead in two of the three yet-to-be-called races.
In one of those races, Joshua Cole (D) leads Lee Peters (R) by more than 5 percentage points with only one precinct left to report. In another, Susanna Gibson (D) leads David Owen (R) by 890 votes, or about three percentage points, with three precincts and 2,400 early votes left to tally. An in a Petersburg district, Del. Kim Taylor (R) leads rival Kimberly Pope Adams (D) by just 173 votes, though only mail-in ballots remain to be counted.
That means Democrats are likely to hold at least 51 seats — enough for a majority — and could hold up to 53 seats, if everything breaks their way.
In all: A great night for Virginia Democrats. A not so great night for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) hopes of making a late entry into the race for the White House.
10:59 p.m.: Kentucky
All’s well that ends Shell? A few years ago, Kentucky state Rep. Jonathan Shell (R) was a rising star in the House of Representatives, elected by his colleagues to serve as majority leader before his 30th birthday. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) called him one of the most important Republicans in the state.
Then he lost his seat in a stunning upset in the 2018 Republican primary, ousted by a school teacher and first-time candidate.
Tonight, Shell completed his comeback, easily winning an open race for Agriculture Commissioner with 59% of the vote. Agriculture commissioners in Kentucky tend to run for higher office down the line, so don’t forget Shell’s name in future cycles.
10:56 p.m.: Pennsylvania
The Associated Press has projected that Judge Daniel McCaffery (D) will defeat Judge Carolyn Carluccio (R) in the race for an open state Supreme Court seat. McCaffery’s win means Democrats will hold five of seven seats on the state’s highest court.
10:44 p.m.: New York
Yusef Salaam (D) spent more than six years in prison before being exonerated on rape and assault charges as a member of the Central Park Five. Now he’s headed for City Hall — Salaam won a New York City Council seat to represent Harlem on Tuesday, running unopposed after winning this year’s primary in a landslide.
10:34 p.m.: Texas
We made a joke a few days ago about Texas Proposition 12, the critical question of whether to eliminate the position of Galveston County Treasurer. Turns out, that’s the closest race in Texas tonight. With about half the votes in, the measure is passing by a slim 54%-46% margin. Voters in Galveston County itself narrowly approve of passage by a 53%-47% margin.
10:22 p.m.: Pennsylvania
The race between Judge Daniel McCaffery (D) and Judge Carolyn Carluccio (R) is tightening: With 75% of expected votes counted, McCaffery leads 53.7% to 46.3% — a margin of about 160,000 votes. Still lots of votes to count in Philadelphia and the Collar Counties, where McCaffery is leading by wide margins.
9:52 p.m.: Maine
Maine voters have rejected a proposal to create a publicly-owned utility. Voters rejected Question 3 by a 71%-29% margin, with 35% of the expected votes in.
Maine voters approved a different measure, Question 2, that will prohibit foreign governments — and entities that are more than 5% owned by foreign governments — from spending money on state elections. That measure passed by an even wider 86% to 14% margin.
9:50 p.m.: Ohio
House Speaker Jason Stephens (R), who opposed Issue 1, suggested late Tuesday that the legislature would continue to attempt to restrict abortion rights: “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life,” he said in a statement. “This is not the end of the conversation.”
9:29 p.m.: Kentucky
“Well, that didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it to,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) said in his concession speech. He said he had spoken to Gov. Andy Beshear (D) to concede and wished Beshear well.
— Austin Jenkins
9:26 p.m.: Virginia
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is claiming victory in the battle for the Virginia Senate, holding onto a majority that will allow them to block Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) ambitions for the second half of his term in office. The Associated Press has not yet declared enough races for our comfort, but Democrats are having a good night in the Commonwealth.
“Democrats’ message of protecting fundamental freedoms resonated with voters tonight and allowed us to protect this chamber against an onslaught of spending and disinformation from Gov. Youngkin and his allies. With this victory, Gov. Youngkin has been denied a governing trifecta and our newly elected majority stands ready to defend Virginia from Republican extremism,” DLCC interim president Heather Williams said in a statement.
9:15 p.m.: Pennsylvania
In another abortion-related election tonight, Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffery (D) is leading Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio (R) 65%-32%, with 32% of the vote in. If McCaffery wins, Democrats will maintain the 5-2 majority they held on the Supreme Court before the 2022 death of Justice Max Baer (D).
Speaking of Pennsylvania, former Philadelphia city council member Cherelle Parker (D) has won election to replace term-limited Mayor Jim Kenney (D). Parker will be the 100th mayor elected to lead the city in its more than 330-year history — and the first woman to hold the top job.
9:10 p.m.: Maine
Still not looking good for supporters of a publicly-owned utility. With 12% of the vote in, Question 3 is trailing 27%-73%.
9:08 p.m.: Kentucky
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), chair of the Democratic Governors Association, congratulated Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on his win, touting the group’s $19 million investment in the state. “The DGA is very proud that we invested a new record of over $19 million in Kentucky to help Gov. Beshear cross the finish line and build on our record of winning critical races in some of the most challenging political environments,” Murphy said in a statement.
9:04 p.m.: Ohio
The Associated Press has projected Ohio’s Issue 1, enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution, will pass. With 38% of the expected vote in, the measure is winning with 58%. Here’s our story on abortion rights backers extending their win streak to seven.
8:48 p.m.: Texas
Two Democratic heavyweights appear to be on course for a head-to-head runoff in Houston, where U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) and state Sen. John Whitmire (D) far outpaced the rest of the field in the race to replace term-limited Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Jackson Lee has represented Houston in Congress since 1995, while Whitmire assumed his state Senate seat in 1983. They’ll face off in a December 9 runoff.
8:44 p.m.: Kentucky
NBC News has projected Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) has won re-election over Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). With 72% of the expected vote counted, Beshear leads 52.5% to 47.5%. Here’s our story on the race.
8:26 p.m.: Maine
The first votes are coming through in Maine, where voters were asked to decide whether to create a publicly-owned utility that would acquire the assets of the state’s two big investor-owned utilities. Only 1% of the vote is in, but that early vote isn’t looking good for public utility backers — Question 3, to create the publicly owned utility, trails 77%-23%. Question 1, a measure requiring voter approval for a public entity to take on more than $1 billion in debt, is passing by a two-to-one margin.
The two investor-owned utilities outspent supporters by a margin that, when all is accounted for, will approach 40-to-1.
8:19 p.m.: Ohio
Exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool consortium that includes ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News show voters across demographic groups backing Issue 1. The measure led 61%-39% among women and 54%-46% among men; 54% of whites, 84% of Blacks and 74% of Latinos and people of Hispanic origin supported it. Majorities of every age bracket except those over 65 voted in favor, as did 64% of independent voters and 19% of Republicans.
Interestingly, 19% of Trump voters backed the measure. Just 8% of Biden voters voted against.
8:12 p.m.: Virginia
We don’t expect a final result from Virginia tonight, where results are trickling in slowly — so far, none of the key races have been called. But here are the state Senate seats we’re watching: Districts 17, 24, 27 and 31. And here’s the map of competitive races we made using data from the Virginia Public Access Project:
In the House of Delegates, we’re watching districts 21, 22, 57, 65, 82, 89 and 97. None of those races have been called yet, either. Here’s what the House map looks like:
8:07 p.m.: Ohio
With 20% of the expected vote in, Issue 1 remains comfortably ahead, leading 65%-35%. There are nearly a million votes expected to come from Democratic bastions left to count.
Recall that abortion rights opponents tried to pass a measure in August that would have raised the threshold by which future constitutional amendments passed, from a simple majority to 60%. That effort failed, but it’s starting to look like Issue 1 will top the 60% threshold anyway.
7:47 p.m.: Mississippi
A state judge has ordered polling places in Hinds County, home of Jackson, to stay open until 8 p.m. after unexpectedly high turnout caused some places to run out of ballots. Hinds County voted for then-Attorney General Jim Hood (D) by a 78%-22% margin in 2019.
7:41 p.m.: Ohio
The first votes are coming in, most from early and absentee ballots. Issue 1, the measure adding abortion rights to the state constitution, leads by a more than two-to-one margin, while voters back Issue 2, to legalize marijuana, by a 59%-41% margin. Just 6% of expected votes are in so far.
7:28 p.m.: Kentucky
Our friend David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has, to borrow his phrase, seen enough: He projects Gov. Andy Beshear (D) wins re-election to a second term.
I've seen enough: Andy Beshear (D) wins reelection in #KYGOV, defeating Daniel Cameron (R).
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 8, 2023
7:21 p.m.: Kentucky
Taking a look at some counties that have completed their counts early, there are signs that Beshear should be optimistic: Cameron won Bell County, in southeast Kentucky, by a 59%-41% margin, with just about all the votes counted. Four years ago, Bevin carried Bell County by a 62%-37% margin.
Cameron carried Taylor County, south of Louisville, by a 59%-41% margin. Four years ago, Bevin won it 61%-37%. Over in Breathitt County, in Coal Country, Beshear won 61%-39% — a huge improvement from four years ago, when he carried the county by just under two points.
7:19 p.m.: Virginia
Nineteen Democrats and 14 Republicans have won election to seats in the House of Delegates, while two Democrats and three Republicans will be senators. Those candidates all ran unopposed in today’s elections.
7:15 p.m.: Kentucky
About 75 minutes after the polls closed, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) holds a healthy 58% to 42% margin over Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The good news for Beshear: There are still lots of votes to count in Jefferson County, home of Louisville, where he’s winning by a 70%-30% margin. The good news for Cameron: There are lots of rural western and eastern counties that haven’t started reporting yet.
Here’s what the 2019 race looked like by county, when Beshear beat then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R) by less than half a percentage point:
Polls close at 6 p.m. ET in most of Kentucky, where Gov. Andy Beshear (D) faces Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) in a race that’s tightened in recent weeks. Polls show Trump voters coming home to Cameron. We expect a close race.
It’s important to make a distinction between Trump voters and Republican voters. Kentucky is an ancestrally Democratic state that’s veering to the right, meaning lots of voters who registered as Democrats 20, 30 or 40 years ago vote Republican today.
Consider Harlan County, home of some of the most significant labor activism in the 1970s — and subject of the excellent documentary “Harlan County, U.S.A.” About 35% of its 19,000 registered voters are Democrats, but President Biden won just 13.6% of the vote there in 2020. Some of those ancestral Democrats will still vote for a guy named Beshear — Andy’s father, Steve, was governor for two terms. But how many of them choose Cameron, who held a tele-town hall with former President Donald Trump on Monday? Answer that question and you’ll know who wins tonight.
Polls close at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia, where Democrats control the state Senate and Republicans hold the state House of Delegates, both by narrow margins. The two sides have spent more than $188 million contesting the hottest races — one Senate race in Loudon County has attracted $11 million in spending alone. That’s the size of a decently competitive congressional campaign.
Check out our list of the most expensive campaigns of the year, right here.
Voters are deciding whether to enshrine abortion and reproductive rights in the state constitution, and whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET, and we could get the first significant result of the night here — both measures are likely to win approval.
Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is fighting for a second term against Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D). Polls close at 8 p.m., but don’t expect a quick call — the race appears to be closing in the final days. If neither Reeves nor Presley wins an outright majority, they would meet again in a Nov. 28 runoff election.
And a runoff is suddenly a possibility: Gwendolyn Gray, an independent candidate, has withdrawn from the race, though her name remains on the ballot.
All 120 seats in the legislature are on the ballot, though Democrats are likely to maintain their majority here. Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.