As voters across the country cast their ballots Tuesday in a range of state and local races, analysts are watching to see what this off-year Election Day could signal about the battle for the White House and other 2020 contests.
“While none of these states will be critical for the 2020 presidential or Senate elections, today’s results could be important to watch in terms of support of certain demographics that will be key come November 3rd of next year,” said analysts at Beacon Policy Advisors in a note.
It’s worth tracking how much enthusiasm President Donald Trump manages to generate among Republicans and white working-class voters, as well as to what extent Democratic candidates energize suburban and none-white voters, the analysts said.
Trump campaigned Monday night for Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who is in a tight race against Democrat Andy Beshear, and the president also has sent out tweets in support of Virginia Republicans, who are trying to preserve their slim majority in the state legislature’s two chambers. Trump also has campaigned for Louisiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, who is running against incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, though Louisiana’s runoff election isn’t on Tuesday, but rather Nov. 16.
Here are five things to watch as results from Tuesday’s elections roll in.
1. Can Democrats flip Virginia’s legislature?
If Democrats flip both chambers of Virginia’s legislature, they would be running three key arms of the state’s government for the first time in 25 years, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam still has two years left to his term after surviving his blackface-photo scandal.
Virginia has turned increasingly blue in recent years, with Hillary Clinton carrying the state in 2016.
Gun makers such as American Outdoor Brands Corp. AOBC, -0.04% and Sturm Ruger & Co. RGR, -0.06% could be affected by Virginia’s election results on Tuesday. The gun debate is playing a big role following a May mass shooting in Virginia Beach — and after the Republican-controlled legislature shut down a special session on gun-control measures in July.
2. Will Trump’s campaigning in Kentucky pay off?
If Bevin loses in his re-election bid in Kentucky’s gubernatorial contest, Trump said on Monday that pundits “will say Trump suffered the greatest defeat ever.”
“You can’t let that happen to me,” the president said at an election eve rally at the storied home of the University of Kentucky’s basketball team.
A Mason-Dixon poll last month showed Bevin and Beshear tied, with each at 46% support. Beshear, the state’s attorney general, is the son of Steve Beshear, who served as the state’s Democratic governor immediately before Bevin.
“This is Trump’s safe zone, nationalizing campaigns for Republicans in need of help in deep red states,” Beacon’s analysts said.
3. Will Trump’s campaigning in Mississippi pay off?
Trump also has waded into the governor’s race in Mississippi, holding a rally on Friday night for GOP candidate Tate Reeves, the state’s lieutenant governor.
While Mississippi is a red state, Reeves is facing the tightest governor’s race in decades, battling against Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. A Mason-Dixon poll last month found Reeves ahead of Hood by just 3 percentage points.
Mississippians are also selecting state legislators on Tuesday, but the legislature isn’t expected to flip.
4. Will NYC voters back a measure aimed at reducing polarization?
Voters in some localities and states are also deciding Tuesday on ballot measures, including a New York City plan for ranked-choice voting.
With ranked-choice voting, people mark not only their first choice in a race, but also their second, third and sometimes fourth choices.
As some big investors worry about the nation’s polarization, supporters of this approach to voting say it can reduce polarization because it forces candidates to broaden their appeal. Opponents maintain it can confuse voters.
5. Will Washington state’s voters bring back affirmative action?
More than two decades after Washington state’s voters banned affirmative-action programs, they’re casting ballots on the issue again.
Voters there have been tasked with choosing whether to keep a measure approved this spring by the state’s legislature that reinstates affirmative action, the Seattle Times writes.