Insights & Analysis

U.S. Update: 2023 Off Year Elections

Karen A. Tramontano
#BlueStarBrief#October 2023#Update

Typically, in the United States, elections are held in years ending in even numbers with Presidential elections held once every four years and elections for the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate held once every two years. Most elections for Governors are held similarly except for a few U.S. states where elections are held in years ending with odd numbers such as in 2023. In November 2023, there will be several state elections and a ballot initiative. There are also two Congressional special elections, one in Utah and one in Rhode Island, but neither will change the composition of the House of Representatives.

State Legislatures

In four U.S. states there will be state legislative races: Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. The control of the legislature will not change in Louisiana, Mississippi, or New Jersey. Republicans solidly control Louisiana and Mississippi and Democrats solidly control New Jersey.

In Virginia where the Governor is a Republican, the Democrats control the Senate (Upper House) by a margin of 22 Democrats to 17 Republican and 1 non-aligned Republican. All 40 seats are up for election in November 2023. In the Virginia House of Delegates (Lower House), Republicans re-gained control in 2019 with the election of the Republican Governor. Of the 100 seats, 51 are Republicans, 46 are Democrats, and 3 seats are vacant. All 100 seats are up for election in 2023. Virginia had been trending “blue” (Democrat) in recent years but when a Republican was elected Governor in 2019, the trend to “blue” has been questioned. All eyes are focused on the outcome of Virginia’s legislative races.

State Governors

There are three races for Governor. The one to watch is Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. Kentucky has two Republican Senators—Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell—so it may seem unusual that a Democrat would be elected to state-wide office in Kentucky except that Governor Andy Beshear’s father, former Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear, was a very popular and Democrat Governor. The race is one to watch to see if Governor Beshear can defy the odds and get re-elected in a state that has voted for the Republican candidate for President since 1996.

The other two races for Governor will be held in Mississippi and Louisiana. In Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves will be re-elected. In Louisiana, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who has served as Governor for two four-year terms, was precluded from running for a third term. There are no less than 13 candidates for Louisiana Governor: two Democrats and several Republicans and independent candidates. Louisiana, which is governed by a civil code adopted from the French, has an open election with no party primaries. If a candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, that candidate is declared the winner. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates have a runoff. And, even though everyone predicted that with so many candidates in the race it would be unlikely that any one candidate would receive more than 50% of the vote, former Attorney General Jeff Landry won with 52% of the vote. Other state-wide seats in Louisiana, including the Attorney General, will be heading to a run-off.

Ballot Initiative

Finally, in Ohio, a woman’s right to health care, including an abortion will be on the ballot. The Republican attempt to increase the percentage by which a ballot initiative could pass was defeated this summer in a special election. The outcome of November’s ballot initiative will determine whether a woman has the right to an abortion in Ohio.

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