The latest from elections in Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and results

By Tori B. Powell, Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Shania Shelton, CNN

Updated 4:03 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023
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2:02 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says Daniel Cameron's "attempts to nationalize this race backfired"

From CNN's Abby Baggini

Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy, are pictured during an interview with CNN’s Kate Bouldan on November 8.
Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy, are pictured during an interview with CNN’s Kate Bouldan on November 8. CNN

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, fresh off winning a tough reelection battle last night, reacted to the victory on CNN alongside his wife Britainy, telling CNN's Kate Bouldan that his success was not because of "wedge issues," but rather his individual message to Kentuckians.

"I know that there are different issues out there that may be driving people right now, but at the end of the day they want somebody they trust, that cares about them and that is going to work as hard as it can. And it doesn't have to be more complicated than that," the governor said, adding that his campaign's strategy was to "not get distracted by whatever the issue of the day is in Washington, DC."

"My opponent's attempts to nationalize this race backfired, because he wasn't talking about what he wanted to do as governor," he continued, speaking about Republican candidate for governor Daniel Cameron. "So any time you want to bring in the wedge issues or try to make it about something else, you are missing your chance to talk to voters about what you would do."

Britainy, who was involved in her husband's campaign, said that while the political climate was "tough" and "extremely divisive," Kentuckians showed with their votes that "the politics of divisiveness and hatred do not have a place in the governor's office in Kentucky."

Beshear said he is "absolutely not" considering a 2024 presidential bid.

"Well, it's kind and it's flattering, but my job is to be the best governor that I can be," Beshear also said of 2028 rumors. "Every day now that I have left as governor is special."

1:42 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Hillary Clinton says election results "should be very good news for President Biden"

From CNN's Abby Baggini

Hilary Clinton during an interview on ABC's "The View" on November 8.
Hilary Clinton during an interview on ABC's "The View" on November 8. WABC

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "the election results yesterday should be very good news for President Biden," during an appearance on The View.

"Joe Biden has not only proved that he's done a good job, but look at the alternative. Look at what we would face as a country. I think the election results yesterday should be very good news for President Biden," Clinton said, noting that voters are clearly animated by abortion rights and increasingly repelled by political extremism.

Clinton said that it is "natural" for parties to toss around alternative candidates at this stage of the race, noting that the same happened during Barack Obama and Bill Clinton's re-election campaigns. Still, she said, Biden remains the best person to take on former President Donald Trump.

"What I think, again, we saw yesterday, is that a lot of people may not be telling pollsters they're reconsidering, but they're reconsidering," Clinton said of Trump's success in the polls. 

1:47 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

How Ohio's special election predicted the future of abortion in the state

From CNN's Annette Choi

Issue 1 supporters cheer at a watch party on November 7 in Columbus, Ohio.
Issue 1 supporters cheer at a watch party on November 7 in Columbus, Ohio. Sue Ogrocki/AP

Ohio on Tuesday night became the latest state to protect reproductive rights in its state constitution — joining California, Vermont and Michigan. It is the first and only state under full Republican legislative control to do so, signifying a growing disconnect between Ohio voters and the state’s Republican leadership, including Gov. Mike DeWine who signed a “heartbeat bill” banning abortion at around six weeks into law in 2019.

This comes months after a special election in August where 57% of Ohio voters rejected an initiative that would’ve raised the threshold to amend the state constitution from a simple majority to 60%. Although the measure was not directly about abortion, it served as a proxy battle for abortion rights in the state.

Ohio voters’ decision to protect the right to abortion in the state constitution overrides a six-week ban that was briefly in effect following the overturn of Roe v. Wade and has since been blocked by an injunction. Abortion is currently legal through 22 weeks in Ohio.

The same counties where more than 60% of voters opposed changing the constitutional amendment process also strongly voted in favor of protecting abortion in the state’s constitution.

In the general election, proponents of Issue 1 — which establishes a constitutional right to abortion — spent nearly $25 million in advertising, compared to opponents of the measure who spent $16.3 million, according to recent data from AdImpact.

Abortion proved to be a big motivator for Ohio voters during the off-year special election in August — which otherwise might’ve passed by under the radar. Voters turned out in droves to defeat the measure that would have altered the state’s amendment process. 

11:52 a.m. ET, November 8, 2023

"Complete Failure": Top Senate Republicans reel after election losses and call for changes ahead of 2024

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju

Top Senate Republicans called for changes to how the party handles divisive issues such as abortion rights ahead of the 2024 midterms after last night’s disappointing results.

“I think it's about execution, it's about messaging, and we've got to do a better job,” Sen. Thom Tillis told CNN. “Yesterday, to me, it was a complete failure.” 

He noted that he was troubled by the low voter turnout. 

“These were races that Democrats didn’t win – Republicans lost, we didn’t show up, same way we didn’t show up in Georgia in 2020,” Tillis said. 

He also pushed for state Republican parties to meet their voters where they are on abortion rights. 

“As speaker of the House, I passed several pro-life bills. When I ran for election in 2014, my position on pro-life never came up. Why? Because we made damn sure it was consistent with the majority of voters in North Carolina. That's what we need to do across the country,” Tillis said.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune agreed that candidates are going to have to be on “offense” in 2024, saying: “We have to have a compelling message that appeals to suburban voters, no question about that.”

He added, “I think that’s economy, jobs, cost of living, public safety, the border, I think those are the issues that are going to resonate with people across the country. And our candidates this year are going to be on offense on that issue.”

Sen. John Cornyn noted that every candidate is going to have to find a message on abortion that works for their constituency in 2024. 

“This is something each individual candidate has to try to figure out for themselves. Every part of the country is a little bit different, so in places like New York or California, they'll continue to be more permissive than in conservative states like mine that’ll be less so,” he said.

“I wouldn’t state a general rule that would apply nationwide,” he added. He also noted that they need, “good candidates who can answer the questions.”

However, Sen. Steve Daines, the chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, argued that these elections were focused on state’s issues, not national ones, and are not a signal of what’s to come in 2024.

“There's a big difference in running on state issues, and these were all state elections, and running on federal policies, defending Joe Biden,” he said. “The Democrats will have to defend Joe Biden, his policies, the disaster on the southern border, the disaster of the economy, the disaster geopolitically. Big difference between state races and federal races.”

Daines added, “These are state issues they were battling. It’ll be a very different set of issues in ’24 as we look at the United States Senate.”

12:14 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Romney tells GOP to avoid social issues in 2024 after another election loss

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Sen. Mitt Romney is seen at the US Capitol on September 21, in Washington, DC.
Sen. Mitt Romney is seen at the US Capitol on September 21, in Washington, DC. Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Republican candidates in 2024 should focus on the economy and steer clear of social issues, after last night’s disappointing results, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said Wednesday.

“I think we perform best when we talk to people about the cost of living, and the fact that under President Biden, the cost of living has gone way up, their incomes have not gone up with it. When we're talking about people's lives, we win,” the Utah Republican told CNN’s Manu Raju. “When we're talking about some social issues, they can become highly divisive and we end up not doing as well as we could have.”

Romney acknowledged there is “no doubt” that abortion will still be a key issue next year, noting that they "each can describe our personal views and what we want to do on issues of significance,” but he still emphasized the economy as the focal point of their messaging.

“I think we're winning when we’re talking about the economy, when we're talking about the cost of living,” he said. “And when we're not talking about that and we're talking about the election and 2020 or talking about other highly divisive issues, it can end up being pretty difficult for us.”

However, Romney doesn’t think that Republicans’ poor showing in this year's elections are a signal of what’s to come in the 2024 presidential election.

“I don't really think that the kinds of election results that we saw last night translate terribly well into President Biden's reelection effort,” he said. “I think President Biden is overwhelmingly going to be judged on the basis of how people feel about their personal economy, about the cost of living, and I think abortion is going to be a big issue in states’ ballot initiatives and so forth, but at the national level, I think it's going to be about the economy.”

Romney added, “I think Trump can absolutely win. I think the polls are showing that if the election were held today, Trump would win.”

12:06 p.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Trump tries to blame Republican Daniel Cameron's Kentucky loss on McConnell

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial on November 6, in New York City.
Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial on November 6, in New York City. Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday tried to blame the defeat of the candidate he backed in the Kentucky governor’s race, Daniel Cameron, on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

“Daniel Cameron lost because he couldn’t alleviate the stench of Mitch McConnell. I told him early that’s a big burden to overcome. McConnell and Romney are Kryptonite for Republican Candidates,” Trump posted on Truth Social. 

Trump continued, “Tate Reeves, on the other hand, surged to a win for Governor in Mississippi after my involvement. Congratulations to Tate!”

Cameron, the state’s Republican attorney general, lost to incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

9:38 a.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Analysis: This geographic shift may have decided last night's elections

From CNN's Ronald Brownstein

The biggest question in Tuesday’s elections was whether Democrats can maintain their advantages in the nation’s biggest population centers – despite all the headwinds buffeting the party.

Geographic polarization has been one of the most powerful trends in American politics for roughly the past two decades, with Democrats gaining ground in the most populous metropolitan areas almost everywhere, and Republicans growing stronger in the smaller places beyond them. That trend notably accelerated after Donald Trump emerged as the GOP’s dominant figure in 2016 and has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court rescinded the constitutional right to abortion last year.

The GOP’s dominance of exurban, small-town and rural areas helped Trump win the White House in 2016 and has allowed the party to solidify its grip up and down the ballot on interior states with large nonurban populations. But Republicans’ retreat from the well-educated inner suburbs around major cities has been the principal reason for their disappointing results in the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections, as well as the anti-abortion movement’s defeat in a series of ballot initiatives since the 2022 Supreme Court decision.

By traditional measures, the political environment for Tuesday’s election again looked favorable for Republicans, with most voters expressing dissatisfaction about both the economy and President Joe Biden’s job performance. But all of those conditions were present in the 2022 midterms, when Republicans underperformed anyway, mostly because of continued resistance in the major population centers – especially those well-educated inner suburbs where most voters oppose new restrictions on abortion.

The largest urban and suburban areas likely determined whether Democrats could defy political gravity once again this year in Tuesday’s key elections, from Kentucky and Ohio to Virginia and Pennsylvania. If Democrats run well, it will reinforce the message from the 2022 midterms that they can hold a critical swathe of voters who feel the party has not delivered for their interests by portraying Republicans as a threat to their rights and values.

Read Brownstein's full analysis.

10:25 a.m. ET, November 8, 2023

Democrats had a big night as abortion rights take center stage. Catch up on Tuesday's elections

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

People cheer as they watch election results come in on November 7, in Columbus, Ohio. 
People cheer as they watch election results come in on November 7, in Columbus, Ohio.  Sue Ogrocki/AP

States and cities across America held elections on Tuesday in the last major election day until the presidential primaries begin in January.

For all the sound and fury around yesterday's elections, there was one clear signal: Abortion rights are politically popular, no matter where or when they are on the ballot.

And that — no matter how you slice it — is good news for Democrats as the parties plot their strategies ahead of the 2024 elections.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin – the Virginia Republican who believed he could crack one of the most intractable issues in American politics with the promise of “reasonable” abortion restrictions – will not lead a GOP-controlled legislature in the Commonwealth, which denied the party control of the state Senate and put a swift end to both his plan for a 15-week abortion ban and rumors he might pursue a 2024 presidential bid.

Meanwhile, voters in Ohio decisively said they wanted a constitutionally protected right to abortion with the passage of a ballot measure – only a few months after they rejected another measure that would have made it harder for them to shield abortion rights.

And in Kentucky, the Democratic governor defeated his Republican challenger, a state attorney general with close ties to former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, after a campaign in which abortion became a flashpoint.

Here are the key election night takeaways on a strong night for Democrats:

As Ohio goes, so goes the nation? Tuesday night’s election results probably won’t change the equation for Biden in 2024, given Ohio’s recent presidential electoral history. But how about Sen. Sherrod Brown? The Ohio Democrat faces a difficult reelection run next year, but outcomes from the Buckeye State may give him a boost.

Already a proven political winner for Democrats, abortion rights further solidified their place as a driving force in next year’s elections when voters in Ohio, an increasingly conservative state that voted twice for Trump, passed a ballot measure on Tuesday enshrining them in the state constitution. Red, blue and purple states alike have green-lit similar proposals, solidifying a trend that defies partisan expectations and could have an outsized influence on next year’s federal elections. In the end, though, Ohio Republicans might have gotten off easy. Their referendum took place now, during an off-year with no voting for statewide office or president. Other state Republican parties might not be so lucky.

Glenn Younkin and Virginia hit a wall: The Youngkin 2024 bandwagon ran off the road on Tuesday, when Virginia voters denied the governor and his party the legislative majorities they craved. That means no 15-week abortion ban, which Youngkin backed as a “reasonable” solution that, in his telling, was going to douse the rage of Americans who disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. It also likely puts to bed rumors that Youngkin, who has always insisted he had no ambitions to move north of Virginia, will attempt a late entry into the 2024 GOP presidential primary. The logic there turned on the governor’s ability to craft a coalition that included the far-right, the center-right and the pure centrist swing voter – or something akin to what won him the governor’s mansion in 2021.

Democrat Andy Beshear won reelection in Kentucky. But who lost? Andy Beshear won a second term on Tuesday in a state that Trump carried by more than 25 points in 2020. Now the real fight begins. Endorsed by Trump but often described as McConnell’s protégé, Daniel Cameron’s defeat will stir a lot of finger-pointing within the Republican Party. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was directing his at the former president shortly after the polls closed, calling the result “another loss for Trump.”

History-making wins in Rhode Island and Philadelphia Government will look a little more like the governed after Tuesday night’s results are all in. To start, Democrat Gabe Amo is the projected winner of Rhode Island’s special congressional election. He will be the first Black person to represent the state in Congress. And in Philadelphia, former city councilmember Cherelle Parker will become the first woman to lead the City of Brotherly Love.

Read more election takeaways.

1:33 a.m. ET, November 8, 2023

CNN Projection: Democrats sweep control of Virginia legislature in major blow to GOP Gov. Youngkin

From CNN's Gregory Krieg, and Jack Forrest

Gov. Glenn Youngkin during a campaign stop at a polling location in Bristow, Virginia, on Tuesday.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin during a campaign stop at a polling location in Bristow, Virginia, on Tuesday. Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Democrats will win full control of the Virginia legislature, CNN projects, effectively ending Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes of governing with Republican majorities and enacting his conservative agenda. 

Virginia Democrats will flip the state House while retaining their majority in the state Senate.  

Control of the state legislature was at stake in this year’s election, with Republicans defending their narrow majority in the state House. Youngkin, who has been touted as a potential late entrant into the 2024 Republican presidential race currently dominated by Donald Trump, spent much of the past few months rallying GOP voters toward a hoped-for governing trifecta.  

The elections were also seen, for better or for worse, as a referendum on Youngkin’s non-MAGA brand of conservative politics and the state House of delegates and state Senate candidates who subscribe to it. 

Democratic candidate for Virginia House of Delegates Rodney Willett and Democratic candidate for Virginia State Senate Schuyler VanValkenburg greet supporters at an election party on Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia.
Democratic candidate for Virginia House of Delegates Rodney Willett and Democratic candidate for Virginia State Senate Schuyler VanValkenburg greet supporters at an election party on Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia. Steve Helber/AP

But with Democrats projected to control the state legislature, Youngkin may have lost the opportunity to portray himself as the rare GOP leader with some distance from the MAGA brand and a record of winning over some Democrats. 

The results also underscore the power of abortion politics after yet another campaign waged with reproductive rights as a central issue broke in Democrats’ favor. Youngkin had vowed that if Republicans won full control of the Virginia legislature, they would pass and he would sign legislation to outlaw abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.  

Going into the election, Virginia Democrats held a 22-17 majority in the state Senate, with one vacancy. Republicans controlled the state House 48-46 with six vacancies. 

The post has been updated with the results from the House of Delegates races.

CNN’s Ethan Cohen, Molly Gahagen and Melissa Holzberg DePalo contributed reporting to this post.