On Tuesday (November 5), people in communities across the country headed to the ballot box to cast their votes on propositions, city council members, state legislators, and governors alike. It was a wild night featuring notable wins across the political spectrum, and firsts in Arizona, Kentucky, and Virginia — and it could serve as an indication of what’s to come in the fateful 2020 presidential election. Here’s what you missed:
Tucson, Arizona voted against becoming a sanctuary city
The folks who live in Tucson, Arizona, reliably vote for Democratic candidates and proposals — essentially, they’re a big blue dot surrounded by a pool of red. On November 5, the city elected Democrat Regina Romero as their first-ever Latina mayor of the city. (She’s replacing Democrat Jonathan Rothschild, who decided not to seek re-election.) And every single one of the city council wards up for election — Ward 1, Ward 2, and Ward 4 — saw Democrats elected to the seats.
But when it comes to the idea of becoming a sanctuary city, which would limit the circumstances in which police officers could ask about immigration status, the answer from Tucson voters was a resounding “no.” More than 70 percent of people voted against the proposition, while about 29 percent voted “yes.”
People’s Defense Initiative, the group behind the proposal (including Green Shirt Guy), said in a statement to the Tucson Star that despite the results, “thousands of Tucsonans made clear their desire for new policies that protect the most vulnerable in our community.”
“We are incredibly proud of the hard work and inspiring commitment of our team and the hundreds of Tucsonans who made this campaign their very own,” the statement said. “Through this effort, we were able to uplift an important city-wide conversation that changed Tucson for the better.”
Democrats won in Virginia
Democratic candidates crushed Virginia elections, taking complete control of the entire Virginia government for the first time in more than two decades, the Washington Post reported. Prior to the election, there was just a two-seat GOP advantage in both chambers; every seat was up for election last night. Come the state’s swearing-in on January 8, 2020, Democrats will have a majority in both legislative chambers (75 to 62), while Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam continues his term. The state also elected Ghazala Hashmi to the state Senate; she will be the first Muslim woman to serve at that level in Virginia.
Whether or not this is a sign for what’s to come in 2020, one thing is for sure: This election has major policy implications. Republican-majority legislatures have either stalled or struck down a number of bipartisan and progressive policies, from tightening access to guns to raising the minimum wage and getting rid of right-to-work laws.
This comes after a very scandal-fueled few months in Virginia. In February, Gov. Northam was accused of appearing in a racist yearbook photo complete with Ku Klux Klan regalia and blackface. He admitted it, and then later denied it. Just days later, two women came forward with allegations that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, had sexually assaulted each of them (he has denied the allegations). Later that month, Virginia Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that he once wore blackface, too. As of publish time, none of the three men have stepped down from their positions.
New Jersey is getting (a bit) redder
While final results are still being tallied in New Jersey, Republicans in the state seemed to have gained two seats in the Assembly and one in the Senate, according to the New York Times. Democrats won’t lose their state-wide majority, though, as they currently control the chamber and are leading by a wide margin in the seats that were up for election.
Democrats took Pennsylvania
Plenty of eyes were on Pennsylvania’s election results, given that the state is an often-critical battleground in presidential races. Democrats took control of local government — including in Delaware County, which has been in Republican control since the Civil War, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kentucky is messy
Republicans did well in Kentucky, capturing most of the state-wide elections. That is, except for Governor, where incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin seemingly lost to Democratic challenger Attorney General Andy Beshear. But, with the majority of the precincts counted, Beshear is ahead by around 5,000 votes; as a result, Bevin refused to concede, saying there “have been more than a few irregularities,” according to the New York Times.
Beshear, on the other hand, said Kentucky voters sent their message “loud and clear for everyone to hear.”
“It’s a message that says our elections don’t have to be about right versus left, they are still about right versus wrong,” Beshear said.
Republican Daniel Cameron, who used to work as legal counsel for Senator Mitch McConnell, won the race to replace Beshear as the Attorney General. He became the first Black man to win the position in Kentucky — and the first Republican to do so in over 70 years, according to the New York Times.
Republicans won in Mississippi
Trump took Mississippi by nearly 18 points in 2016, so it’s no surprise that Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won the Governor's race, defeating Democrat Jim Hood. What could be surprising is that people voted to elect a candidate who was seen at a neo-Confederate gathering in 2013. Nearly 38 percent of Mississippi residents are Black; in September, four Black residents filed a federal lawsuit against the state, alleging that its two-tiered path to securing a statewide elected office deliberately disenfranchises Black voters.
New York City voted in favor for ranked-choice voting
Ranked-choice voting — wherein voters can rank their top candidates in order, by marking first-choice candidate first, their second-choice candidate second, their third-choice candidate third, and so on — allows voters to have a say in who their backup plan would be should their favorite candidate not clinch a majority. And New Yorkers want a backup plan.
New York City joined 20 other cities around the country by approving Ballot Question 1 in a margin of nearly 3-1, according to Politico, meaning voters will be able to cast their vote using a ranked-choice system in local primary and special elections beginning in 2021.
Ranked-choice voting is supported by politicians like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang. They say that, because it forces candidates to rely on a broader base in order to win, they must engage with a wide variety of voters. Proponents of ranked-choice voting argue it increases voter turnout, allows voters to express how they feel about multiple candidates; creates room for moderacy; and gets rid of some of the negative campaigning. Moreover, it can give voters more opportunities to consider multiple candidates. Opponents of ranked-choice voting argue that it makes the process too complicated, though Maine residents using the system seem to be doing just fine.