Last night Democrats pulled off a big win in Ohio, defeating a Republican ballot measure 57-43 in a campaign that was basically a litmus test on abortion rights, gerrymandering, and the general ability of voters to take matters into their own hands to rein in the extremism of the GOP legislature.
This was just the latest of a number of big wins for progressives throughout 2023 which also included taking control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and knocking Republicans out of two of the biggest Mayoral offices they still held in the country in Jacksonville and Colorado Springs.
In fact our friends at Daily Kos Elections have found that in more than 20 special elections across the country so far this year Democrats are doing an average of 7.5 points better than Joe Biden did in the same districts in his 2020 victory.
There are a few different reasons for this. One is obviously the salience of the abortion issue and the motivation voters have to send Republicans a message on it.
Another is the reshaping of the electorate along educational lines. The more well educated a voter is the more likely they are to turn out for in an election that is unusual- an April 2023 election for the state Supreme Court, an August 2023 election on a ballot question, etc. Because Democrats have increasingly become the party of well educated voters while Republicans have increasingly become the party of less well educated voters, Democrats have a structural turnout advantage in these ‘unusual elections’ that has contributed to their recent success in them.
As eyes turn to legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia later this year a big question becomes ‘will Democrats have the same sort of turnout advantage in those regularly scheduled November elections that they’ve shown throughout the year?’ And the early answer from our polling from 10 races in those states is yes.
In our New Jersey and Virginia polling we’ve asked people if they’re certain to vote this fall, if they probably will, if the chances are 50/50, or if they will probably not vote and we’ve kept all respondents in the poll so we can see differences in voting intentions with the different groups.
So far an average of 73% of respondents in those districts say they’re ’certain to vote’ this fall. And among those who say they’re certain to vote, Democratic candidates are doing an average of 5 points better than they are in the polls overall- close to tracking with the average ‘over performance’ Democrats have had across the country so far this year.
Voters planning to cast their ballot for Democrats are more excited to turn out in New Jersey and Virginia this fall just like they have been all over the country so far this year. As long as our candidates have enough resources to run great campaigns that should lead to a more positive climate for legislative Democrats in those states than there was in 2021, putting more GOP held seats on the map and giving the party a good chance at reclaiming the House majority in Virginia while building on its majorities in the Virginia Senate and New Jersey legislature.
One thing we do caution on though is making many assumptions about what will happen in November 2024 based on what’s happened in 2023. When Donald Trump is on the ballot it’s a whole different ball game and it’s a safe bet that most of the less well educated conservative voters who’ve been sitting out elections this year will be back in the electorate. But Democrats can do a lot of good with continued successes in the races remaining in 2023.
We are staying busy with projects all over the country at PPP even in the off year! In the last few weeks we’ve polled Congressional races for next year in California, Delaware, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York, looked at what voters are thinking about current issues in Alabama, Michigan, and Minneapolis, and took a look at upcoming special elections in Oregon and South Carolina. If we can be of use to you for any upcoming projects please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 888-621-6988. We would love to work with you!