Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

Because the Census Bureau delayed several months in releasing census tract data to the states, which is critical and necessary information for drawing legally qualified districts, 2021 redistricting in Virginia and New Jersey did not occur, meaning the previous maps are still in place for this election.

Three special congressional elections are on the ballot. Two special generals will occur in Ohio today, and the pair should send a Democrat and a Republican to Washington. In the Cleveland-Akron seat, Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown is the prohibitive favorite, while in southern Ohio, Republican Mike Carey, the former chairman of the Ohio Coal Association, is likely to score a high 50s win. Neither victory will be a surprise, but the margin in each race could be interesting.

In Florida, the special primary to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) will be decided. The action is in the Democratic primary where 11 candidates are vying for the right to advance to a Jan. 11 special general election. The field features three sitting state legislators, two members of the Broward County Commission, and an ex-Palm Beach County Commissioner. Businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, however, after spending almost $4 million of her own money, could find herself at the top of the field tonight.

Many mayoral elections are also on the ballot. Key battles will culminate this evening either in a first or second election from Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, and Seattle. Democrats will control all of these elections, but which individuals claim the posts will be of interest.

There are two police-oriented propositions on ballots, both designed to either fortify or reduce law enforcement budgets or power. We will follow results in Austin and Minneapolis for these measures, which could be harbingers of others to come depending upon the outcomes.

Though the odd-numbered year elections are often not particularly noteworthy, tonight is an exception and the results could provide us future electoral clues.

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