WASHINGTON – Less than a week before Virginia’s legislative elections, experts at the American Enterprise Institute’s Election Watch 2024 panel determined that Virginia’s off-year-election would likely carry no predictive value for the 2024 general election.
“I would not take any real predictive value from the elections that happen this year,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said.
Next Tuesday, 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates and 40 seats in the state Senate are up for reelection. The Senate and House races are considered highly competitive. If the Republicans overtake the Democrats’ two-seat edge in the Senate, Republicans would take full control of the state government.
A Republican upset seemed unlikely according to Kondik. “I’d be more surprised by a Republican sweep, than a Democratic sweep,” he said.
Historically, college-educated Republicans would turn up in off-year and midterm elections while low-turnout-voters were Democrats. In the Trump era, “the socioeconomic profile of the parties have shifted significantly,” Josh Kraushaar, editor in chief of Jewish Insider, a Jewish news outlet, said.
Now, “you have a lot of Trump voters who only show up when Trump’s on the ballot in a presidential election year,” Kraushaar said.
According to Election Watch 2024 panelists, the issue of abortion is another roadblock preventing a Republican upset.
“For the most part, almost every Republican is running on a 15-week abortion ban in the state of Virginia,” Kraushaar said.
Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin upset former governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, in the 2021 governor race by 2 points. Youngkin spearheaded the effort to popularize a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and severe medical emergencies.
As Election Day approached, organizations like the ACLU of Virginia warned that an “anti-abortion majority elected to the Senate and the House” would threaten Virginians’ access to reproductive care. Currently, Virginia allows abortions through the second trimester or about 24 weeks.
Panelists agreed that ultimately, Republicans running on an “abortion ban” platform is a “losing issue.”
Karlyn Bowman, distinguished senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, stressed that while abortion “will be a very powerful issue going forward,” regardless of political leaning, “people want individual choices respected.”