Democrats score big election wins over Republicans in Virginia and Kentucky

Democrats made gains in traditionally red states in Tuesday’s election.

Traditionally red Kentucky and Virginia turned partly blue Tuesday after voters elected Democrats in major races.

In Virginia, voters elected Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Prior to the election, Republicans were up 20-19 in Senate and 51-48 in House of Delegates. On election day, however, the votes shifted in favor of the Democrats.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Kentucky governor election. This comes as a major disappointment for Republicans, as President Donald Trump was pushed for GOP candidate Matt Bevin’s victory. Bevin’s campaign closely aligned with Trump’s values, inspiring the president to host a rally in Bevin’s honor the night before the election. A loss on Tuesday would send “a really bad message,” Trump said, adding that “you can’t let that happen to me!”

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., attributes Tuesday’s results in Virginia to evolving demographics.

“It's really about the changing population of Northern Virginia, where people have been moving in, many of whom are young, educated, a lot of them are public sector workers,” Sonenshein said. “It's also the change in the suburbs, and gun control is part of that, but so is the issue of reproductive choice and Medicaid. On issue after issue, the state has been turning, first purple and now blue.”

However, comparing Virginia and Kentucky, he said the underlying reasons for both states’ Democratic voting are different.

“Virginia has been turning blue for a decade, little by little,” Sonenshein said. Alternatively, Kentucky’s democratic favoring had more to do with voters’ disapproval of the Republican figures in the state.

Kentucky isn’t turning blue, but voters prioritized who they believed to be the best candidate over party loyalty in this instance, he said.

“The governor getting elected in Kentucky had a lot to do with how massively unpopular the Republican governor was, and Republicans won all the other statewide offices very easily.”

Election Day in California was relatively quiet, aside from one assembly race and several local measures.

Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt and Republican Megan Dahle competed in a special election for Assembly District 1 in the far northeast corner of the state. The seat in the conservative-leaning district was vacated by Dahle’s husband, Brian Dahle, after he won California Senate District 1 in June. Megan Dahle won on Tuesday with 57.9% of the vote to Betancourt's 42.1%.

In Rancho Palos Verdes, the ballot included Measure B, which, if passed, would have given hospitality workers a $15 per hour minimum wage. However, 78.1% voted against the measure.

In addition, Claremont, Irwindale, Monrovia, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena all voted to raise sales taxes to the state maximum of 10.25% in order to fund parks and public services.