2023 Election Results: Democrats and Republicans Score Victories, Encounter Losses — Here’s What We Learned
Throughout the nation, Democrats and Republicans engaged in a number of contentious elections this year in an effort to gain ground before 2024.
There were significant wins for both parties as well as disheartening losses, such as in several state legislative, municipal, and governor campaigns.
The following are the main conclusions from the elections of 2023:
Democrats lose control of Louisiana’s governorship to Republicans
Republicans ousted Democrats from control of Louisiana’s governorship in October when state attorney general Jeff Landry defeated Shawn Wilson.
In Louisiana’s jungle primary system, Landry exceeded the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff and will succeed term-limited Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in January.
Both Democrats and Republicans intended to use the campaign as a springboard for triumph in the November elections just weeks later. It was the first significant struggle between them before the 2024 elections.
Landry is the only Republican to have been elected governor of Louisiana in the past 20 years; the other was former governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. Louisiana is known for being a deeply red state.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was Removed
Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her attempt for reelection in March after finishing third in her party’s primary and missing the April runoff, making her the first sitting mayor of the city in forty years.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the Chicago Teachers Union supported radical Democrat Brandon Johnson, a county commissioner, who ultimately succeeded her.
Voters’ decision to remove Lightfoot from office was significantly influenced by the city’s extreme crime rate, which skyrocketed during her leadership.
According to the Chicago Police Department, there were 797 killings in Chicago in 2021—a 25-year high.
Democrat In Overwhelmingly Red Kentucky, Andy Beshear Wins Re-election
Deeply red Kentucky easily elected Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear back to office in November, dealing a serious setback to Republicans expecting to ride the wave into the 2024 election year with another large flip following their victory in Louisiana.
In the end, Republicans’ chances of flipping the seat were not enhanced by the rising stardom of Beshear’s opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, nor by the unpopularity of President Biden and his fellow Democrats in the commonwealth. This resulted in a great deal of finger-pointing within the party in the aftermath.
As one of the few Democratic governors still in office, Beshear will continue to serve in a strongly conservative state where Republicans outnumber Democrats in the legislature. When Landry takes over for Bel Edwards in Louisiana in January, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelley will be the only other Democratic governor of a state with a Republican tilt.
Democrats in Virginia Seized Complete Control of the State Legislature
Despite GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin’s attempts to seize complete control of the state legislature for his party, Democrats were able to hold onto control of the Virginia state Senate and flip the state House of Delegates from Republicans in November.
The Virginia legislative elections attracted significant national interest, with millions of dollars being spent by both Democrats and Republicans. The elections were seen in political circles as a crucial indicator for the 2024 presidential and congressional elections.
The outcome is viewed as a political setback for a governor who was thought to be a rising star in the GOP and who some influential Republicans were pushing to enter the 2024 presidential race late in the game. Youngkin will not be free to ram through a conservative agenda during his final two years in office.
Democrats in Pennsylvania win, then twice lose the historic majority in the state House
After months of uncertainty following the 2022 elections, Democrats in Pennsylvania took control of the state House in February, gaining a one-seat majority for the first time in nearly a decade.
After that, in July, one of the Democrats’ members resigned, and they didn’t win the majority again until a special election in September.
Earlier this month, another Democrat resigned to take a job as a judge, throwing the chamber back into a deadlock and leaving the balance of power at 101-101.
To fill the vacant seat, a special election is anticipated to take place on February 13. Voters in Ohio adopted an amendment to the state constitution that guarantees access to abortion. Voters in Ohio approved a constitutional amendment in November that incorporated abortion rights into the state constitution.
Republicans opposed the vote, claiming the legislation went beyond Roe v. Wade. Pro-abortion groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which had invested tens of millions of dollars in the state that Trump won by eight points in 2020, celebrated the result as a significant win.
Tate Reeves of Mississippi wins a second term after defeating the second cousin of Elvis Presley
Tate Reeves, the Republican governor of Mississippi, won a reelection in November after defeating his Democratic opponent, Brandon Presley, who is the second cousin of the well-known rock and roll star Elvis Presley.
In an attempt to take advantage of the deep red state, national Democrats viewed Reeves’s refusal to support Medicaid expansion and hammered him for it. In response to the criticism, Reeves declared that he supported employment above welfare.
During the campaign, Reeves emphasized his accomplishments as governor, pointing to the state’s lowest unemployment rate ever, improving levels of educational attainment, and his collaboration with hospital executives to keep hospitals open.
Given that Mississippi is the poorest state in the country—with a poverty rate of 18.1% in 2021—the state’s economy and healthcare—particularly the extension of Medicare—became significant topics in the election.