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Image: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Holds Election Night Party In Louisville
Kentucky incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear delivers his victory speech at Old Forrester's Paristown Hall on Nov. 7, 2023 in Louisville, Ky.Stephen Cohen / Getty Images

Eyes on 2024: Five 2024 clues in Tuesday's elections

Here's what we learned about 2024 from last night's elections.


On Monday, we asked five questions about what Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky could tell us about 2024.

Here’s what we learned: 

1. Just how potent is the issue of abortion after Roe v. Wade’s overturn a year ago?

Voters once again signaled support for the right to an abortion — this time approving a ballot measure to enshrine the right to an abortion in Ohio’s state constitution, up until fetal viability, with 57% backing the measure and 43% opposing it. 

And the abortion issue helped carry Democrats to victory in Virginia, where they held on to the state Senate and flipped control of the House of Delegates after warning that GOP success could lead to a ban on abortions. 

NBC’s Adam Edelman writes Tuesday’s results show that abortion rights “remain a major political force for Democrats and a vulnerability for Republicans across the country.”

2. How strong is the power of incumbency?

Incumbency remains a major advantage in governors’ races, with both Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Ky., and Gov. Tate Reeves, R-Miss., fending off their challengers. Beshear earned more than 52% of the vote, defeating GOP state Attorney Daniel Cameron by 5 points and widening his margin from his first narrow victory in 2019.

Reeves also got 52% of the vote and defeated his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, by around 5 points. 

3. Does Kentucky remain a bellwether?

This question won’t be answered until 2024, but Beshear’s victory is likely a welcome sign for Democrats since the Kentucky race has previewed presidential victories. Beshear’s victory could provide a roadmap for Democrats candidates looking to buck efforts to tie them to Biden, which Republicans attempted to do in the final stretch of the Kentucky race. 

But the dynamics of Beshear’s race are difficult to replicate. He built a strong brand that was separate from the national party over his four years in office. Plus, he didn’t have to run on the same ballot as Biden, which will not be the case for Democrats next year. 

4. Is Glenn Youngkin’s star about to take off? Or fizzle out? 

Judging by last night’s election results, it could be starting to dim. Youngkin went all-in on his state’s legislative elections, raising millions of dollars to support GOP candidates and hitting the campaign trail himself. 

He also led the party’s messaging on abortion in the state, calling for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, and other GOP candidates campaigned on that platform. 

Youngkin’s next steps are not clear, especially after the GOP losses. He cannot run for re-election, and he has brushed off questions about whether he would make a late run for president, saying he remained focused on the state legislative elections.

5. And will Democrats continue their winning streak in low-turnout elections?

Despite the loss in Mississippi, which was a tough climb for Presley given the state’s partisan lean, Democrats certainly had plenty to celebrate on Tuesday after some concerning poll numbers for Biden in recent days. 

“Across the country tonight, democracy won and MAGA lost,” Biden posted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. “Voters vote. Polls don’t. Now let’s go win next year.”