On Tuesday, November 7th, 36% of Pennsylvania’s over 8.5 million registered voters cast their ballots (or had their mail-in ballots reported) in the 2023 general election.
Ahead of Tuesday’s competitive judicial races in Pennsylvania, the nation’s eyes were focused on bellwether legislative races in Virginia, and Kentucky’s statewide race to elect (or, re-elect) the commonwealth’s chief executive.
Just days prior to Election Day, polls had these key bellwether races in a dead heat. Emerson Polling reported four days prior to the election that the Kentucky gubernatorial race was anyone’s game—both candidates were tied with 47% of the vote, with 4% of the vote undecided and 2% of votes committed to another candidate. In the course of a month, Emerson reported that undecides were moving rapidly toward Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s favor, and that Beshear’s popularity had relatively hit a ceiling.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Washington Post, in partnership with the Schar School of Policy & Government at George Mason University, published polling at the end of October that showed a very slight favor towards a generic Democrat ballot (an only 2-point lead amongst likely voters!) despite noting that a Republican-controlled House of Delegates would give Republicans full control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s mansion. The issue of abortion rose closer to top of the list of issues that were top-of-mind for voters, but this still fell far behind the issue of the economy, which 68% of likely voters ranked as their #1 reason for voting, just under education at 70%. Republicans, rightfully so, had reason to be cautiously optimistic.
The results that soon followed on Tuesday, November 7th showed that much of the media’s focus on national polling was a mistake, not dissimilar to the polling in last year’s midterm election cycle which predicted a “red wave”. Despite record-high inflation, increasingly rising costs of goods and services, and President Biden’s startlingly low favorability rating of 39.5%, Democrats swept the Virginia legislature, and Kentucky’s chief executive, Governor Andy Beshear, was re-elected to a second term.
The case of Kentucky showed the world that even in a deep red state, the electorate is ready to turn the page to a new chapter of fiscal conservatism. The commonwealth’s gubernatorial race boiled down to two names who weren’t atop the 2023 ballot, but who are, once again, vying for the votes of the electorate in 2024. Virginia showed us that likely voters—especially independents—want to elect candidates that will swiftly address the growing threats to our economy in Washington. However, there are bigger issues (and names) atop the ballot that are holding us back from achieving pragmatic solutions to the issues driving up the costs of fuel, food, and day-to-day resources.
It’s time to turn the page toward new leadership for the country’s highest office. That’s why Americans for Prosperity has launched our Reignite the American Dream campaign. Next year, voters across the commonwealth and country don’t have to buy the idea that a 2020 Presidential matchup, this false choice, is inevitable.
The next nationwide leader must inspire Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters that there’s a better way to do business in Washington, D.C., and it’s through removing barriers that hold Americans back from being in the driver’s seat of their pursuit of the American Dream. We can, and must, do better—for our future, for our country, and for our commonwealth. Pennsylvania will play an outsized role in electing the next leader of the Free World. Will we gamble on our success next election cycle, or will Pennsylvanians choose to turn the page to new leadership that will forge the path towards fiscal prosperity for all?
Check out americansforprosperity.org to learn more. This is Emily Greene, Deputy State Director with Americans for Prosperity-PA.