Kentucky and Mississippi will elect governors on Tuesday, with Democrats looking for upset victories in those two solidly Republican states.
In Virginia, voters will decide control of the state legislature, where Republicans have slim majorities in each chamber. If the G.O.P. loses, Virginia state government will be under full Democratic control.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Virginia; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Kentucky, depending on the location; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time in Mississippi.
The New York Times will publish results pages for the Virginia legislature and for the governor’s races in Kentucky and Mississippi, with continuous updates through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The big picture
Tuesday’s election results will offer insights on two crucial political dynamics heading into the 2020 campaign: the depth of President Trump’s appeal with Republicans and how fully suburban voters have swung to the Democrats.
The Republican candidates for governor in Kentucky and Mississippi have aggressively linked themselves to Mr. Trump and sought to tie their rivals to the national Democrats pursuing the impeachment inquiry against the president. Mr. Trump, who comfortably carried both states in 2016, has put his political capital on the line: He rallied voters in Mississippi on Friday and was in Kentucky on Monday night.
The president has not appeared on the campaign trail in Virginia, where Democrats are hoping Mr. Trump’s deep unpopularity in the suburbs is enough for them to flip control of both chambers of the state legislature. Virginia is the only Southern state the president lost in 2016, and Republicans are facing a series of difficult races in metropolitan districts.
The 2019 election season does not end Tuesday, however. On Saturday, Nov. 16, Louisiana voters will choose between Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and his challenger, the businessman Eddie Rispone. It’s another race where the Republicans are trying to harness Mr. Trump’s standing with conservative voters and their dismay over his looming impeachment to nationalize a state election. Mr. Trump, who has already been to Louisiana once for Republicans this fall, is headed back there later this week to stump for Mr. Rispone.
The battle for Virginia’s suburbs
Virginians will decide whether to hand power to Democrats for the first time in a generation or maintain divided government. Major policy issues like gun safety are at stake, as well as control over drawing new voting districts in 2021. All 140 seats in both chambers are on the ballot. Republicans hold slim majorities of 20-19 in the Senate and 51-48 in the House of Delegates, with one vacancy in each.
If you’re watching the election returns on Tuesday night, here are some of the most closely contested races to follow that will help determine which party controls the legislature:
Senate District 13: Loudon and Prince William Counties in the Washington suburbs. This open seat, vacated by a Republican in a region rapidly becoming a blue enclave, is likely the best pickup chance for Democrats. John Bell, a Democratic state delegate, faces Geary Higgins, a Loudon supervisor.
Senate District 10: suburbia west of Richmond. Glen Sturtevant, a Republican, may be the most threatened incumbent statewide in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 11 points. His Democratic challenger, Ghazala Hashmi, would be the first Muslim woman in the Senate.
Senate District 12: suburbia north of Richmond. Siobhan Dunnavant, the Republican incumbent, won her seat easily in 2015. Since then she took an unpopular vote opposing Medicaid expansion. Her Democratic challenger, Debra Rodman, is a freshman member of the House of Delegates who first ran for office in the blue wave year of 2017. Ms. Rodman says her internal polls show a tied race.
Senate District 7: Virginia Beach. An open seat following a Republican retirement. Cheryl Turpin, the Democrat, is a delegate first elected in the 2017 wave. Her Republican opponent, Jen Kiggans, is a former Navy pilot. The district went for Mr. Trump in 2016, but swung to Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, in 2017.
House District 94: Newport News. The 2017 race here made national headlines when it resulted in a tie and the winner was chosen by drawing. This year the two candidates are in a rematch: David Yancey, the Republican incumbent, versus Shelly Simonds.
House District 66: Richmond suburbs. A court-ordered redistricting forced Kirk Cox, the speaker of the House, into a district that now favors Democrats. He faces Sheila Bynum-Coleman, a member of the state Board of Contractors. Mr. Cox is Virginia’s most powerful Republican.
House District 83: Virginia Beach. Chris Stolle, the Republican incumbent, was redrawn into a seat that is more Democratic. He faces Nancy Guy, a former school board member.
House District 85: Virginia Beach. An open seat that Republicans believe they can flip. The Democratic winner in 2017, who prevailed by just 389 votes, is running for State Senate. Alex Askew, the Democratic nominee, faces Rocky Holcomb, a sheriff’s deputy who narrowly lost the same race two years ago.
House District 73: Henrico County outside of Richmond. Another open seat whose Democratic occupant is running for the State Senate. That has given Republicans hope in a district that used to be reliably red. Both the Democrat, Rodney Willett, a lawyer, and the Republican, Mary Margaret Kastelberg, a banker, are first-time candidates.
Who is less unpopular in Kentucky?
Voters in Kentucky will decide whether Matt Bevin will be the first Republican governor in the state’s history to win a second term. The partisan gravity, in a red state that is still quite fond of Mr. Trump, would seem to favor him heavily.
But Mr. Bevin’s broad personal unpopularity has made this a tossup.
Drawing support from schoolteachers and others who have felt insulted or bullied by the governor, Andy Beshear, the Democratic state attorney general and the son of Mr. Bevin’s immediate predecessor, entered the general election with a lead. But a summer of ads drawing attention to Mr. Beshear’s (or his party’s) positions on abortion, immigration and the president steadily dragged down that early edge.
The impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump is energizing Republicans while Mr. Beshear has sought to focus on local issues. One question on Tuesday is whether an aversion to a particular politician, Mr. Bevin, is greater than an aversion to a particular political party, i.e., the Democrats.
A competitive race in Mississippi
In a strongly Republican state, the Mississippi governor’s race pits Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who has been endorsed by the outgoing Republican governor, against Attorney General Jim Hood, an anti-abortion, pro-gun Democrat.
The race has been competitive, but Mississippi is an uphill climb for any Democrat.
Mr. Hood will need strong turnout from black voters and will be closely watching turnout and returns in the state capital, Jackson, which is predominantly black, as well as other urban areas and the Mississippi Delta region.
Mr. Reeves, who won the Republican nomination after a runoff, will be looking to bring dissenting Republicans into his fold. His supporters will likely be keeping an eye on the Jackson suburbs, particularly the vote-rich Republican redoubt of Rankin County, for signs of defections to Mr. Hood, who has trumpeted his good-old-boy bona fides (truck, dog, guns) in his TV ads.
If the race is close, a Jim Crow-era provision of the Constitution expressly devised to limit black political power may come into play. It mandates that candidates for state-level office must win not only a majority of the popular vote, but also a majority of the 122 state House districts. If that does not happen, the winner will be picked by the state House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans.
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