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Tuesday primary results: Are the odds looking better for Democrats?

A special election in New York gives Democrats hope for the midterms

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Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan speaks during a campaign rally on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in Kingston, N.Y.

Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan speaks to supporters during a campaign rally on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in Kingston, N.Y. Ryan won a special election against Republican Marc Molinaro.

Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

We’re approaching the end of primary season, as states across the nation are beginning to ramp up toward November’s general election. Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries, and what to look for come November.

Democrats’ chances seem to be improving in the midterms

Traditionally, political scientists have observed that the incumbent president’s party loses House and Senate seats in the midterms — thanks to a backlash against the party in power and the ever-fickle nature of American politics. This year was expected to be no different.

That thinking may be evolving, though, after Pat Ryan, a Democrat county leader in upstate New York, won a special election against Republican Marc Molinaro. Special elections often serve as a bellwether ahead of midterms, as they generally feature races between Republicans and Democrats, unlike typical partisan primaries.

Ryan won New York’s 19th District in the Hudson Valley by two points, which was expected to lean toward Republicans by four points, according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade may be the catalyst for mobilizing Democrats who may otherwise have skipped the primaries and midterms. Since the court’s June 24 decision, Democrats have outperformed their expected partisan lean in all four special elections by an average of nine points, according to FiveThirty Eight, compared to a two-point bump for Republicans prior to the ruling. 

Earlier this month voters overwhelming rejected an anti-abortion measure in deep-red Kansas, indicating that abortion is motivating liberal and moderate voters.

Race to unseat Ron DeSantis is in full swing

In Florida, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former state governor, won the state’s Democratic primary for governor, setting up November’s general election race against Gov. Ron DeSantis. Crist was a Republican during his first stint as governor starting in 2006, but changed parties in 2012.

Crist faces a tough general election against DeSantis, who is a popular member of the GOP. Whether crossing the aisle will help or hurt him among some moderate conservative voters is unclear.

Abortion may play an important role in the general election. Crist promised to sign an executive order to protect abortion rights on his first day in office. On the other hand, DeSantis signed a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape and incest.

In another Florida race, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican and close ally of former President Donald Trump, handily won his reelection primary.

Two incumbent Democrats fall in primaries

Two Democratic House members lost their seats on Tuesday night. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., beat Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., after redistricting put the two sitting representatives in the same district. Maloney is a longtime representative, who chairs the House Oversight Committee. Nadler has served since 1992, and is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Dan Goldman, who served as lead counsel in the first impeachment of Trump, defeated Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., who was one of the first openly gay black members of Congress.