Dems, GOP both won big victories and suffered defeats in 2023. Here are the year’s top election takeaways

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Democrats and Republicans clashed in a number of heated elections across the country this year as they looked to build momentum heading into 2024.

Both parties experienced big victories and disappointing defeats, including in a number of gubernatorial, mayoral and state legislative races.

Here is a look at the top takeaways from 2023’s elections:

Republicans flip Democrat-held Louisiana governor seat

In October, Republicans flipped Louisiana’s governor seat from Democratic control when state Attorney General Jeff Landry defeated Democrat Shawn Wilson.

Landry passed the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff in Louisiana’s jungle primary system and will take over from term-limited Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in January.

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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testifies in the Rayburn Building in Washington, D.C., on March 30. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The race was the first major contest between Democrats and Republicans heading into the 2024 elections, and both hoped to use it as a springboard for success in the November elections just weeks later.

Landry was only the second Republican elected in the last two decades to lead Louisiana, a traditionally deep-red state, with the other being former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Lori Lightfoot ousted as Chicago mayor

In March, Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot became the first incumbent leading the city in four decades to lose a re-election bid when she came in third in her party’s primary and failed to make the April runoff.

She was ultimately ousted by progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson, a county commissioner backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Brandon Johnson stands with then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Brandon Johnson stands with then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot before he is sworn in as Chicago mayor at the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 15. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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Chicago’s rampant crime problem played a major role in voters’ decision to give Lightfoot the boot as the city saw crime go through the roof during her tenure.

The number of homicides in Chicago in 2021 hit a 25-year-high, reaching 797, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Democrat Andy Beshear wins re-election in deep-red Kentucky

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear handily won re-election in deep-red Kentucky in November, a major blow to Republicans hoping to ride the momentum into the 2024 election year with another big flip after winning in Louisiana.

The rising-star status of Beshear’s opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, combined with the unpopularity of President Biden and his fellow Democrats in the commonwealth, ultimately didn’t boost Republicans’ chances at flipping the seat, and led to a large amount of finger pointing within the party in the aftermath.

Andy Beshear and Daniel Cameron split

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, left, and Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. (Getty Images)

Immediately following the election, a number of national and local Republicans lamented that former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft, who faced Cameron in the GOP primary earlier in the year, wasn’t the party’s nominee, arguing she would have been a more “formidable” challenge to Beshear.

Beshear will continue as one of the last remaining Democratic governors of a deep-red state where Republican voters outnumber Democrat voters and conservative roots run deep. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelley will be the only other Democratic governor of a Republican-leaning state once Landry replaces Bel Edwards in Louisiana in January.

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Virginia Democrats win total control of state legislature

In November, Democrats retained control of the Virginia state Senate and flipped the state House of Delegates from Republicans, despite GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempts to win total control of the state legislature for his party.

Virginia’s legislative elections grabbed outsized national attention, with both Democrats and Republicans spending millions on the races, which were viewed in political circles as a key barometer ahead of the 2024 elections for president and control of Congress.

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during a “Get Out the Vote” rally in Richmond, Virginia, on Nov. 5. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Strategists from both parties looked closely at the results in Virginia’s northern suburbs of Washington, D.C., and around Richmond, for signs that Republicans were able to make any inroads with suburban voters — especially women — who fled the GOP in recent election cycles. But there was scant evidence.

The results mean Youngkin won’t have a free hand during his final two years in office to push through a conservative agenda, and are seen as a political setback for a governor with a reputation as a rising star in the GOP, whom some top Republican donors were urging to make a late-in-the-game entry into the 2024 White House race.

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Pennsylvania Democrats win, then lose historic state House majority twice

In February, Democrats in Pennsylvania won control of the state House for the first time in over a decade with a one-seat majority after months of uncertainty following the 2022 elections.

Democrats then lost the majority with the resignation of one of its members in July before regaining the majority with a special election victory in September.

Pennsylvania Capitol Building

The Pennsylvania Capitol is seen in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 21. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The chamber was thrown back into a deadlock earlier this month with the resignation of another Democrat, who departed for a position as a judge, leaving the balance of power at 101-101.

A special election is expected to be held on Feb. 13 to fill the empty seat. 

Ohio voters approve amendment enshrining abortion access in state constitution

In November, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in the state’s constitution. 

The vote was opposed by Republicans, who argued the measure went even further than Roe v. Wade.

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Ohio polling place

Voters fill out their ballots on Election Day in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7. (MEGAN JELINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

The election signaled a major victory for pro-abortion advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who had pumped tens of millions into the state that Trump carried by eight points in 2020. 

The group argued that a constitutional amendment was needed to protect abortion access after the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Mississippi’s Tate Reeves defeats Elvis Presley’s second cousin to win second term

Incumbent Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves secured a second term at the helm of the Magnolia State in November by defeating his Democratic opponent Brandon Presley, the second cousin to famed rock and roll legend Elvis Presley.

National Democrats saw the race as a potential flip opportunity in a deep-red state and tried to capitalize on that by hammering Reeves for refusing Medicaid expansion. Reeves responded to the attacks by saying he believed in work, not welfare.

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Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves

Mississippi incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and his family speak to supporters during an election night watch party at the Refuge Hotel & Conference Center in Flowood, Mississippi, on Nov. 7. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Reeves touted his record as governor during the race, citing the state’s lowest unemployment rate in history, rising educational achievement levels and work with hospital leaders to prevent hospitals from closing.

The Mississippi economy and healthcare, in particular Medicare expansion, became major issues in the race, an unsurprising development considering the state is the poorest in the nation with a poverty rate of 18.1% in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Fox News’ Houston Keene, Andrew Mark Miller and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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