Election Day 2021 Recap

A defeated donkey accompanied by a ballot that says "OFFICIAL ELECTION BALLOT TERRY R. MCAULIFFE GOVERNOR and HALA S. AYALA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR" and a red-tinted elephant accompanied by a ballot that says "OFFICIAL ELECTION BALLOT GLENN A. YOUNGKIN GOVERNOR and WINSOME E. SEARS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR"

Election Day was on Tuesday, and while votes are still being tallied in many races, we now have a fuller picture of the results in many of the most important contests. We’re not going to sugarcoat it — it was not the night Democrats were hoping for. Republicans outperformed expectations, particularly in the high-profile races in Virginia and New Jersey. At the same time, there were some historic firsts, with candidates of color winning for the first time in many positions and locations across the country. Here is a recap of the most notable results from Election Day 2021.

Republicans exceeded expectations in Virginia and New Jersey.

In the most closely-watched election of the night, Glenn Youngkin (R) narrowly defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the Virginia gubernatorial election. Republicans also narrowly won control of the House of Delegates, although Democrats remain in control of the Virginia Senate. Meanwhile, in a much closer result than expected, incumbent New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) was reelected against Jack Ciattarelli (R)

Ohioans elected two new members of Congress — while a primary election in Florida is likely headed to a recount.

As expected, voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts elected Shontel Brown (D) and Mike Carey (R) to the House of Representatives in special elections to fill vacancies. Once they are sworn in, the partisan breakdown of the House will be 221 Democrats and 213 Republicans. Meanwhile, the race for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 20th is likely headed to a recount with Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness narrowly leading health care executive Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. Given the district’s strong Democratic-lean, whoever comes out on top in the recount will likely win the Jan. 11 special election to Congress.

Voters in New York elected New York City’s second Black mayor while rejecting amendments to expand access to voting.

In New York City, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D) won the mayoral race to become the second Black mayor of America’s largest city. Adams’ victory comes after he won the city’s first-ever ranked-choice primary election with strong support from the city’s Black and Latinx voters.

At the same time, voters in New York look poised to reject amendments to the state constitution that would have made voting easier. Currently, the Legislature is unable to permanently enact no-excuse absentee voting or same-day registration. Had the measures been approved, proposals 3 and 4 would have paved the way for the Legislature to enact those reforms. New Yorkers also rejected an amendment that would have modified the state’s redistricting process, although they did approve adding a right to “clean air and water, and a healthful environment” to the constitution.

Republicans won important judicial races in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, voters elected a number of judges to fill vacancies on three of the state’s courts. Pennsylvania’s judiciary has taken on a prominent role in the state’s politics recently. The Democratic-majority Supreme Court overturned a Republican gerrymander of the state’s congressional districts in 2018 and turned back several of Trump’s legal challenges to the 2020 election. At the same time, the Republican-majority Commonwealth Court gave Trump some of his only legal wins in 2020. Republicans swept all races on the ballot, cutting into the Democratic-majority on the Supreme Court and bolstering the GOP advantage on the Commonwealth Court.

Michelle Wu and other Democratic candidates made history.

For 91 years, Boston has elected an Irish- or Italian-American man as mayor. That all changed Tuesday, when Michelle Wu (D) won the mayoral election. Wu ran on a campaign centered around climate justice and housing reform and handily defeated the more moderate Annissa Essaibi George (D). Not only is Wu the first woman and person of color elected mayor, she is also the first nonnative Bostonian elected in almost a century.

Also in Boston, Ruthzee Louijeune (D) secured one of the at-large seats to become the first Haitian-American on the city council. Elsewhere, Shahana Hanif (D) became the first Muslim woman elected to the New York City Council. She and Shekar Krishnan (D) will be the first South Asian candidates to win seats on the Council. In Michigan, state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D) will be Dearborn’s first Arab-American and Muslim mayor. Alvin Bragg (D) will be the first Black Manhattan District Attorney and Ed Gainey (D) won election as Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor. Finally, Aftab Pureval (D) won election as Cincinnati’s first Asian mayor.

For updates on outstanding races, keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s live blog of election results. And just because Election Day has passed doesn’t mean there aren’t any more elections this year. Louisiana will be having its fall elections on Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 and there are various special and local elections still to come — a full list can be found here.