The last big election I followed intensely was in 1980, Reagan vs. Carter. I stayed up late with a group of friends, watching the returns into the early hours of the morning, cheering at every fleeting sign of hope and groaning at the stupidity of the electorate. I learned my lesson. Vote, then turn off the TV and the radio and wait for the official results, because cheerleading does nothing but drain your emotional resources dry.
We had a lesser election yesterday, but there were still issues that mattered in other states than my own, so I ignored the minutiae of the pointless news coverage and waited until today to find out if my cynical half was going to be grimly validated, or my optimistic half was going to see glimmerings of promise. I seem to be seeing good news today.
Here’s a newspaper summary:
- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) turned aside a challenge from Trump-backed state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) relatively easily in a red state.
- Ohio became the latest red-leaning state to vote in favor of abortion rights on the ballot — and by a large margin. It passed Issue 1, enshrining the right to abortion into the state constitution. The pro-abortion-rights position has now won on all seven state ballot measures since Roe v. Wade was overturned in mid-2022. Turnout was also strong in Ohio, suggesting this issue continues to animate voters.
- Democrats not only avoided a potential GOP takeover of Senate in much-watched Virginia, but they actually flipped the state House, taking full control of the legislature.
Yeah, I’ll take it.
The most promising outcome from my perspective is that Republicans remain shackled to their regressive anti-woman views on reproductive rights, and it’s dragging them down. Those are ideas that only win them votes in radically religious districts, and we can only hope that electorate becomes less relevant, as they also seem to be distracted by the shiny baubles of MAGA and conspiracy theories. As Amanda Marcotte explains,
But Republicans aren’t quite powerful enough, yet, to ban abortion without ever having to answer to the voters over it. Ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, voters have repeatedly expressed their outrage at the polls. Not only do people turn out to back ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights, Democrats who run on the right to choose have been overperforming at the polls. It’s one reason some observers feel that, despite President Joe Biden’s poor poll numbers now, he has a good chance of winning in 2024.
In response, Republicans haven’t backed off their anti-choice views. Instead, the’ve tried to bamboozle the voters into thinking that Republicans aren’t as radical as they really are. Republicans have played word games, hoping that by rebranding with terms like “pro-baby” or bullying journalists into using the “limits” instead of “bans,” they could somehow trick people into not noticing their rights are being stripped.
Tuesday’s election showed voters are not fooled.
Overall, the election was a solid reminder that voters may be confused on issues from the economy to labor rights, but on one thing, they are quite clear: They do not like abortion bans. And they keep making that view known at the polls.
Don’t get cocky, though! The anti-woman, anti-equality bloc still exists, is still loud, and still gets absurdly over-funded by privileged billionaires. We have to keep fighting back against their nonsense, but these victories are encouraging.