Biden’s Unpopularity and Abortion Access Are on the Ballot in Tuesday’s Elections

Voters across the country will head to the polls Tuesday to elect new governors, state legislators, mayors, a supreme court justice and county officials in the 2023 off-year elections.


Voters across the country will head to the polls Tuesday to elect new governors, state legislators, mayors, a supreme court justice and county officials in the 2023 off-year elections. Republicans are hoping to capitalize off the unpopularity of President Joe Biden, while Democrats hope abortion fights will continue to fuel success for their party at the ballot box.

  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, the popular incumbent Democrat and son of former governor Steve Beshear, is seeking a second term in a state Trump twice carried handily. Polls have shown a tight race between Beshear and challenger Daniel Cameron, the GOP attorney general.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is favored over Democratic challenger Brandon Presley, the cousin of Elvis, but a lingering scandal over misappropriated state welfare funds has opened the door for the Democrat to pull off an upset in solidly Republican Mississippi.
  • Louisiana is the third state that elects its governor in the odd-numbered year before a presidential election, but Republican Gov.-elect Jeff Landry won an outright majority in the October “jungle primary” election, eliminating the need for a November runoff.
  • Voters in Ohio will head to the polls to decide on whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure in August widely seen as a proxy for the pro-life side, so abortion right advocates expect to see a repeat victory today.
  • Pennsylvania voters will elect a new member of the state Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the death of Democratic justice Max Baer. Daniel McCaffrey, the Democratic nominee, has made abortion central to his campaign. A victory by Republican candidate Carolyn Carluccio would narrow the Democratic majority on the court, making it easier for Republicans to flip control of the court in the 2025 elections after a decade of Democratic dominance.
  • Two western Pennsylvania races in the county home to Pittsburgh have earned national attention. The elections for Allegheny County Executive and District Attorney, the two most powerful positions in Pennsylvania’s second-largest county, have become hotly contested.
  • Republicans have mounted their strongest effort to win countywide office in almost a quarter-century, nominating centrist Joe Rockey for county executive to run against democratic socialist Sara Innamorato. Rockey is polling even with Innamorato in a county that Democrats regularly win easily in national elections and could pull off an upset on election day.
  • Incumbent DA Steven Zappala switched parties and is seeking reelection as a Republican after losing the Democratic primary to progressive Matt Dugan. The moderate Zappala is polling even with Dugan, a public defender whose campaign has been heavily funded by George Soros.
  • In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has turned the state’s legislative elections into a referendum on his governorship. The Republican incumbent is trying to keep the state House of Delegates red and flip the state Senate so he can pass conservative policy goals through the legislature in the last two years of his term.
  • In New Jersey, Republicans are hoping to build on their solid performance in the 2021 legislative elections and further narrow Democratic majorities in Trenton. Democrats are favored to keep the state Senate and state House, but a Republican overperformance could be enough to sweep the GOP into power in the statehouse.
  • The two largest cities voting for mayor today are Houston and Philadelphia. In Houston, longtime Democratic pols Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire are the frontrunners, while in Philadelphia Democratic nominee Cherelle Parker is favored over Republican David Oh.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times observed that the elections in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky all feature a push-and-pull between President Joe Biden’s deep unpopularity and Democrats’ popularity on the issue of abortion. Democratic candidates in the three states have made abortion the centerpieces of their campaigns, while Republicans are campaigning against Biden.
  • Ohio’s “Issue 1, an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution,” has become a national litmus test for the viability of expanding abortion rights in a red state. NBC News noted Ohioans will also vote on Issue 2, which would make the Buckeye State the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
  • CNN pointed out “Democrats have largely succeeded in running on [abortion] in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, which effectively punted abortion law to the states. For the most part, they have done so by framing the debate as one of personal freedom – and leaving Republicans to haggle over the politically painful particulars.”



  • Fox News observed that “Republicans look to complete a trifecta of victories in crucial governor races, as well as grow their majorities in the Virginia state legislature in hopes of building momentum for the party ahead of the 2024 elections where control of the White House and both chambers of Congress will be up for grabs.”
  • The Wall Street Journal noted New Jersey Republicans “are hoping to chip away at Democratic control of the state Legislature and build on a 2021 red wave that swept former State Senate President Steve Sweeney out of office. Democrats hold a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 majority in the General Assembly. Republicans have campaigned against recently adopted sexual-education learning standards and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s support of offshore-wind development.”
  • National Review highlighted the “existential Election Day threat” facing Philadelphia Republicans. Philadelphia guarantees representation for the second party on city council, but the far-left Working Families Party is challenging the GOP’s stranglehold on the at-large seats. Republicans face the prospect of losing representation on Philly’s city council for the first time ever.


Return to Freespoke

© Dominic Moore, 2023