November 2023 Elections Recap: We. Won. Big.
Black Voters Matter Fund, whose local teams and partners got out the vote in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and more.
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 3:08pm
On November 7, 2023, MVP local partners helped Democrats win almost every one of the most consequential elections of the year — from Pennsylvania to Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and more.
NOTE: We’ll be adding to this recap as our local partner reports come in — including details on more down-ballot wins and losses, analysis, stories from the field, and MVP local partners’ impact on the results.
Democrats held the State Senate and flipped the House of Delegates, thereby saving abortion rights and voting rights. Virginia was the state we were most worried about. We have secured slim one-seat majorities in each chamber (with three seats total still to call, as of this writing). One Democrat won by fewer than 1,000 votes and another race not yet called has a current margin of a few hundred votes.
Next step: Defeat Governor Youngkin in 2025 and win back our Democratic state trifecta. Huge props to MVP’s Virginia partners like CASA in Action, Asian Americans for Change Fund, Emgage Action, UNITE HERE, and especially New Virginia Majority, which knocked on close to 300,000 doors and made 113,000 phone calls to voters who were the difference-makers in the closest districts.
We won a big race on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, securing a 5-2 Democratic majority. The state Supreme Court win will help protect the results of the 2024 election and maintain control in 2025, when three Democratic justices are up for re-election. Democrats also flipped the PA Superior Court by winning two seats, including one by less than a percentage point. Dozens of MVP partners pitched in, including: One Pennsylvania, Make the Road Action, PA United, Casa in Action, PA Working Families Party, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, UNITE-HERE, Free the Ballot, 1Hood Power, PA Stands Up, Philly Neighborhood Networks, and more.
We also had several important down-ballot victories, including critical county level positions that have election administration authority (over drop boxes, early voting, ballot curing, etc.), which will help shape voter turnout in 2024. Progressive champion Sara Innamorato won the Allegheny County Executive race. And for the first time ever, two Working Families Party candidates, Kendra Brooks and Nic O’Rourke, beat Republicans for the minority party seats on the Philly City Council.
Democrats retained control of all the Philly “collar counties,” including the heavily-contested Bucks County Commission, and also won back school board seats including the Central Bucks School Board (one of the largest in the state), in a setback for the right-wing Moms for Liberty. Dems took control of the Dauphin County Commission (Harrisburg and suburbs) by just 42 votes. And — especially sweet — Khari Mosley, a leader of MVP partner 1Hood Power, won a city council seat in Pittsburgh.
MVP partners including Stand up for Ohio and Ohio Progressive Collaborative helped pass a ballot measure that will enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution – by 12 points – which will also ease access for people traveling from neighboring states like Indiana and Kentucky, and build 2024 momentum to re-elect Senator Sherrod Brown, who vocally supported the measure. Voters also passed legalization of recreational marijuana.
In this bright-red state, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear won re-election by 5 percentage points. Shout out to our Kentucky partners like CAVE (Commonwealth Alliance Voter Engagement), their many partners who pulled out all the stops to bring this home, and Black Voters Matter Fund, who worked with countless grassroots organizations across Kentucky and the South and beyond on dozens of overlooked elections.
Tucson’s climate champion, Mayor Regina Romero, and Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz both won re-election, supported by Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) and Arizona Working Families. These elections were a pivotal piece in our partners’ plans to galvanize voters for the 2024 elections, when Arizona could decide control of the presidency and the Senate.
Florida Rising endorsed and got out the vote for three winning candidates in Orlando: Commissioners Bakari Burns and Patty Sheehan, and Tom Keen for Florida House District 35.
MVP partners like Faith in Minnesota helped elect progressive majorities on the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Councils. After MVP partners helped narrowly win a Democratic state trifecta in 2022, this sustained local power-building is essential for protecting and building on the gains made.
CASA in Action, Georgia Working Families Party, Black Male Initiative Fund, Asian American Advocacy Fund, and Black Voters Matter Fund worked in hundreds of local municipal elections to harness and strengthen the proven power of Black and brown voters in Georgia ahead of 2024.
Local groups organized and mobilized a record number of early voters to sweep key elections on the Jonesboro City Council and the Jonesboro Mayor’s race in Clayton County, reelecting the first Black woman Mayor of Jonesboro, Donya Sartor, and securing her first full term.
Asian American Advocacy Fund endorsed and got out the vote for nine candidates for various city council seats across some of the most racially diverse counties in metro-Atlanta, electing Vinh Nguyen, a 35-year old Asian American Tucker native who will serve as the first person of color on the Tucker City Council.
In the Savannah Mayor’s race, local groups helped elect a progressive Mayor, Van Johnson. Along with increased investment in local organizing, we’ve seen a trend of increased voter turnout in Savannah and across southwest Georgia — a rural region with high numbers of Black and brown voters who will be critical in 2024.
Our Texas partners worked on Houston-area partners including Houstonians for Working Families helped move progressive champion Sheila Jackson Lee to a runoff election for Houston Mayor.
MVP partners Down Home North Carolina and Advance Carolina got out the vote for the state’s municipal elections as part of their strategy to win local power while building statewide momentum for 2024, when we’ll have the chance to defend the governorship, buck the Trump trend, and win the presidency.
MVP partner Durham For All won three of their four races on the Durham City Council. Across rural Alamance, Cabarrus, and Granville Counties, Down Home NC endorsed and got out the vote for eleven candidates for mayor, city council, board of aldermen, and town commissioner — and so far we can confirm at least seven won, including a Down Home NC member who is Oxford’s new mayor! To see Down Home’s GOTV work in action, check out this 1-minute video.
Cheers for the home team – Congratulations to MVP’s very own staffer Rachel Gordon, who is passionate about the importance of local elections everywhere and was elected last night to the Greenfield, MA City Council – making her our third staffer to serve in elected office.
LESS THAN ONE YEAR TO GO
We’re getting a lot of questions about the recent polling that shows Trump leading Biden – with alarming drops in support and enthusiasm among young voters and voters of color.
Here is our candid assessment, informed by conversations with political insiders and our partners on the ground as well as reading lots of analysis.
- The polls are not to be dismissed. We must not engage in wishful thinking or rose-colored analysis, as some are doing. The underlying trends are real and dangerous, and have been largely corroborated by aggregated polling and focus groups – as well as what we’re hearing on the ground. We continue to believe that Democratic control—and democracy itself—is facing a five-alarm fire that we underestimate at our peril.
- Yes, there are major caveats: One, voters (if they vote) tend to revert to voting with their party on Election Day regardless of the candidate. Two, we’re a year out and a lot can and will happen to move the polling and dynamics up or down, and we all know polls can be off. So we don’t need to freak out or get depressed. But…
- Last night was not necessarily a meaningful bellwether for 2024: The smaller, more educated off-year electorate, motivated largely by abortion rights, is not at all what we can expect in 2024. Next November will largely be determined by lower-propensity voters in both parties (aka presidential surge voters), how motivated they are to vote, and whether they are willing to vote for Biden and other Democratic candidates even when they are extremely disillusioned and upset, which leads to…
- Why MVP local partners are SO vitally important: The campaigns will saturate swing state voters with TV ads, social media white noise, and who-knows-what AI-generated fabrications. So it’s the relational, human-to-human, and the sense of community identity and collective action that will make the greatest difference in whether our core voters—young voters and voters of color—come out. And it’s our local partners’ vigilance in challenging Republican voter disenfranchisement efforts that will ensure that voters are able to cast their ballots and be counted.
We cannot say this enough:
- Young voters and voters of color will make or break the 2024 elections, and local organizing is the key to whether or not they turn out. If the polls are right that these voting blocs are souring on Biden and other Democrats at the national level, MVP local partners’ deep, relational, peer-to-peer organizing efforts are our single greatest hope in winning them back. Trusted messengers will be the difference-makers to engage tens of millions of voters to tip the scales in this excruciating and existentially- important election.
They are counting on us, as MVP donors, to provide the fuel — not next September when it’s already the final stretch, but now, when organizations have the greatest opportunity to staff up, scale up, and level up their operations.
We would be wise to assume it will take a lot more money and effort than it did in 2020 to register and engage enough voters to block the MAGA threat and bring us home to victory. We did it last night. We can do it again in 2024. And we really need you to be part of it with us – in the biggest way you can imagine.
As the holidays approach this month, please make a plan to give big, give early, and invite your family, friends and communities to join you.
Let us continue to give each other hope.
With hope, more victories, and with victories, more hope!
Billy Wimsatt, MVP Executive Director
(On behalf of the existentially motivated MVP team)