Virginia’s House and Senate are up for grabs, with abortion access in jeopardy
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin holds a pair of squash as he tours an H Mart supermarket during his meeting with Asian community leaders on April 06, 2023 in Fairfax, Virginia. Youngkin spent the morning visiting voters across Northern Virginia.
Wayne McNamee | Getty Images
Virginia’s narrowly divided Legislature is ready for election Tuesday, as voters head to the polls in an election that could decide the future of abortion in the Old Dominion, testing the political winds in the key swing state ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Republicans currently hold a slim 51-46 majority in the House of Delegates, while Democrats hold a slim 22-18 majority in the state Senate. All 140 state seats will be voted on Tuesday.
Inflation and the economy are top issues on voters’ minds, two areas where polls show Republicans have an advantage. But Tuesday’s elections also depend on voter turnout, and here Democrats have the advantage.
If Republican majorities control both chambers, they will almost certainly enact a controversial 15-week abortion ban, which has been proposed by Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. This possibility has made abortion a major issue in racing.
It has also attracted national money in contests, with Democratic candidates raising more money overall than Republicans, according to an analysis by the International Finance Corporation. Virginia Public Access Project.
In the Senate, Democrats raised $12.7 million in contributions, compared to $10.6 million raised by Republicans. In the House of Representatives, Democrats received $14.2 million, compared to $8.4 million for Republicans.
Tuesday’s legislative races are the first statewide elections in Virginia since Republicans broke unified Democratic control of Old Dominion in 2021. That year, Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become governor, and the GOP swept to a majority in the House of Delegates.
The Republican win signals that voters in Virginia are shifting to the right, just one year after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the state in 2020. Youngkin remains popular in Virginia, where his approval rating stands at 54%, while Biden poses a burden on Democrats in the state. , with an approval rating of just over 40%.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down national abortion rights by overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022 has put Republicans on the defensive in statewide races across the country.
Like others in his party, Youngkin wants to restrict abortion in Virginia. But he sought to find a compromise compared to Republicans who want to ban the measure completely. Under Youngkin’s proposal, abortion would be banned after the 15th week of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.
Democrats in the Legislature have made preserving abortion rights in Virginia a staple of their campaigns. Currently, the procedure is legal until the 26th week of pregnancy in the Old Dominion, the only state in the South that did not impose restrictions after Roe was overturned.
Virginians overwhelmingly support abortion access, with more than 70% of voters supporting maintaining current state laws, or making the procedure more accessible, according to two recent polls.
However, it is not clear how many voters oppose Youngkin’s proposed 15-week ban. A recent study found that 54% of voters were against such a ban, while another poll indicated that Virginians were evenly divided on the issue.
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