Election Day Live Updates: Voters Head to the Polls in Off-Year but Telling Contests
A multitude of races across the country offer crucial signals for the fate of President Biden’s agenda, none more than the increasingly tight Virginia governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe.,
BOSTON — The women running for mayor of Boston, the city councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, have each raised serious money, totaling $2.15 million and $1.94 million, respectively. But if you look at who is giving them that money, the differences are stark.
Out-of-state donors. Ms. Wu’s candidacy has attracted national attention, with nearly 19 percent of individual contributions to her campaign, totaling more than $400,000, coming from outside of Massachusetts. Out-of-state donations make up only about 7 percent of Ms. Essaibi George’s haul.
Environmental groups. Progressives, who once denounced the influence of super PACs, are now making vigorous use of them, said Paul D. Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. The Green Advocacy Project, an environmental group based in Palo Alto, Calif., has contributed $250,000 to two super PACs supporting Ms. Wu, who has been leading in polls.
Police officers. Ms. Essaibi George, who was endorsed by the city’s former police commissioner, William Gross, has received more than 430 donations, totaling more than $150,000, from police officers and firefighters, according to state records. By contrast, Ms. Wu, who has pushed for cuts to the police budget, has received only 13.
Developers and builders. The candidates diverge sharply on development, with Ms. Wu favoring the return of rent control and the dissolution of the city’s planning agency. In the last weeks, Ms. Essaibi George has raised more than $38,000 from executives at building firms, the Boston Business Journal found. Ms. Wu took in less than half that much from such sources.
A conservative sneaker magnate. Jim Davis, the chairman of the sneaker company New Balance, has contributed $1,095,000 to a super PAC supporting Ms. Essaibi George. Mr. Davis is better known for funding Republicans, having contributed nearly $400,000 to Trump Victory, a super PAC supporting Donald J. Trump, the former president, in 2016.
Election workers in New Jersey encountered problems on Tuesday connecting electronic polling books to the internet, resulting in long lines in some parts of the state as voters tried to cast ballots, including in the race for governor, officials said. The state is using the tablet-like devices for the first time in an election.
Known as e-poll books, the devices pull a list of eligible voters for each polling location from a statewide database. They were used at 139 early-voting sites in New Jersey. The e-poll books are used in tandem with electronic voting machines. It was not immediately clear how widespread the connectivity problems were or whether they were caused by technical issues or user error.
Some voters and elected officials expressed frustration over the delays, which they said had led some people to leave polling sites without voting. “I woke up to a phone call about it,” Mayor Jason F. Cilento of Dunellen, N.J., said in an interview.
Mr. Cilento, a Republican, said he went to the lone polling station in Dunellen, a borough of 7,400 people in Middlesex County, in central New Jersey, where he found 30 to 40 people waiting in line as election workers struggled to get the system online.
“They were annoyed, of course,” he said. “Then there were reboots.”
Mr. Cilento said the state should consider extending voting hours beyond 8 p.m., although the problem seemed to have been resolved later on Tuesday morning, he said.
Speaking in Newark on Tuesday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat who is seeking re-election, said that there were no immediate plans to extend voting, but that he would speak to his aides about the situation.
“Apparently in some places there was confusion,” Mr. Murphy said. “I don’t think it was widespread. And by the way, we got 207,000 people to vote early in person, which is far more than I thought we would on Year 1.”
A spokeswoman for the New Jersey’s secretary of state, the top election official, said in a statement that the problems were isolated.
“Most of the state’s approximately 3,400 polling locations have been operating since 6 a.m. without reported incident,” the spokeswoman, Alicia D’Alessandro, said. “The affected sites have been or are being addressed. If any voters were unable to vote due to these issues, we encourage them to return to their polling location and cast a ballot.”
Some voters asked what steps the state was taking to address the problem.
“Hey @NJGov what’s with the crazy polling delays?” Carlton Haelig, a student at Princeton University, said on Twitter. “WiFi systems down at multiple locations. No one has voted at my location since they’ve opened. Polling volunteers telling people to go home.”
About 35 minutes later, he said that he was still waiting.
“They’re checking in one voter about every 15 minutes,” he said. “People clap with each successful attempt to use the check in computer. This is an absolute mess.”
Voters in congressional districts in Ohio and Florida are headed to the polls for special elections on Tuesday, in races that are unlikely to flip any seats but could provide clues for the future of the Democratic Party.
President Biden issued a last-minute endorsement in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, praising Allison Russo, a Democrat who has had an uphill battle against Mike Carey, a Republican and the chairman of the Ohio Coal Association. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald J. Trump won the district, which includes the outskirts of Columbus and the surrounding areas, by 14 points. Mr. Trump has endorsed Mr. Carey.
The outcome of the race could show whether Republicans have gained strength in the suburbs, and also help set the stage for the 2022 midterm elections.
Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Cleveland and much of Akron, attracted big Democratic names and millions of dollars during the primary race earlier this year between Shontel Brown and Nina Turner, a former state senator and co-chair of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Ms. Brown narrowly won the primary and is likely to win the general election to represent the Cleveland district, replacing Marcia L. Fudge, who was appointed secretary of housing and urban development in the Biden administration. Laverne Gore is running as the Republican nominee for the second time in the district, after losing in 2020’s landslide for Ms. Fudge.
In southeast Florida, 11 Democrats are competing for the party’s nomination for the 20th Congressional District, which wraps in predominantly Black, largely Democratic communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The seat was left open when Alcee L. Hastings, a Democrat, died from pancreatic cancer earlier this year. The general election is not scheduled until January, and the winner of the Democratic primary will likely go on to capture the seat.
The candidates include threee state legislators: Bobby DuBose, Omari Hardy and Perry Thurston; two Broward County commissioners, Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief; a former Palm Beach County commissioner, Priscilla Taylor; and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a health care executive.
Unlike the race in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, national groups have largely stayed out of the Florida contest.
The race has instead focused on competing Democratic factions over the passage of President Biden’s budget reconciliation bill. Several candidates have also promised to help pressure the Biden administration over its policy toward Haiti and Haitian immigrants, including tens of thousands who live in the district.
On Tuesday, crime and policing were on the minds of Atlanta residents at the polls. City voters are choosing a mayor to replace Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in the spring that she would not seek re-election.
Five major candidates are in the race, including Kasim Reed, a former mayor. If no one receives a majority of the vote, the two top vote-getters will advance to a runoff on Nov 30.
Rachel Arney, who lives in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood, was voting at a library branch. She said she was frustrated that many of the candidates supported increasing the police presence in the city.
“In light of last year’s protests and talk about social justice, I’m disappointed that it feels like everyone has gripped harder to loving cops,” Ms. Arney said. She voted for Antonio Brown, a City Council member, because of his involvement in the protests and his vote against building a new police training academy.
Her fiance, Taylor Shelton, had similar matters on his mind. “Everyone in our neighborhood has a Black Lives Matter sign in the yard, and right next to it is a sign for a City Council member who wants to increase support for the police, which is so hypocritical,” he said.
Shirley Ferguson, who voted at a library in the West End, said she was especially worried about public safety and increasing crime. She said she was looking for a candidate “who understands that I want to walk down the street at night without looking over my shoulder every minute.” She voted for Sharon Gay, a lawyer in private practice.
Jennifer Holbach, who voted at a library branch near Midtown, said that she thinks the crime problem in Atlanta has been misrepresented. Though crime is up, the solution is not to increase the police presence, she said, but to focus on housing and employment. She voted for Felicia Moore, the City Council president.
“The city is at a crossroads and needs to be led by someone who knows it and its problems well,” Ms. Holbach said.
At a Baptist church in the Atkins Park neighborhood that served as another polling place, Terri Russell, a retired county tax system employee, said that the election was too important to skip, even though she was feeling unwell with bronchitis and asthma.
She would not say which candidate she had voted for, but said she was looking for someone who would look out for all of Atlanta’s residents. “We need someone with the city’s best interests, not personal interests, at heart to guide it at this juncture,” she said.
Days after a police officer murdered George Floyd, protesters gathered outside Mayor Jacob Frey’s home demanding that the Minneapolis Police Department be abolished. The mayor said no. The crowd responded with jeers of “Shame!”
On Tuesday, nearly a year and a half since Mr. Floyd’s death thrust Minneapolis into the center of a fervent debate over how to prevent police abuse, voters in the city will have a choice: Should the Minneapolis Police Department be replaced with a Department of Public Safety? And should Mr. Frey, who led the city when Mr. Floyd was killed and parts of Minneapolis burned, keep his job?
Minneapolis became a symbol of all that was wrong with American policing, and voters now have the option to move further than any other large city in rethinking what law enforcement should look like. But in a place still reeling from the murder of Mr. Floyd and the unrest that followed, residents are deeply divided over what to do next, revealing just how hard it is to change policing even when most everyone agrees there is a problem.
Many progressive Democrats and activists are pushing to reinvent the government’s entire approach to safety, while moderate Democrats and Republicans who are worried about increases in crime say they want to invest in policing and improve the current system. In one September poll, 49 percent of residents favored the ballot measure, which would replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, while about 41 percent did not.
The divisions extend to the top of the Democratic power structure in Minnesota. Representative Ilhan Omar and Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, support replacing the Police Department. Their fellow Democrats in the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, oppose it, as does Mayor Frey.
Boston will elect a woman to be mayor for the first time. The candidates are city councilors Annissa Essaibi George, a former schoolteacher, and Michelle Wu, who has galvanized young progressives.
We spoke with voters in Richmond, Va., to understand the issues that are getting them out to vote this year.
Just because it’s an odd-numbered year — a hiatus from Electoral College math and midterm machinations — doesn’t mean that Tuesday’s elections are lacking national implications and drama.
There is an array of key races across the country, from gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey to mayoral elections in New York City, Boston and Minneapolis, where voters will also decide the future of that city’s embattled police department. In Pennsylvania, a state Supreme Court seat — an elected position — is at stake, as are a multitude of municipal school boards and other local offices.
Here’s a guide to where and how you can vote.
Is there an election where I live?
If you live in Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia or Washington State, you have statewide elections on Tuesday. By using Vote411 and entering your address, you can find out more about more about the elections where you live.
How can I find out what I’m voting on?
Each state and many municipalities typically post copies of sample ballots online so that voters can familiarize themselves with the candidates and referendum questions. Vote411 also keeps a full list of races.
Where do I vote?
If you want to vote in person, each state has an online portal where you can look up your polling location and hours (and see if you have early-voting options).
Do I need to show identification?
Some states require voters to show identification. You can find out here whether your state has an ID requirement, and if so, what forms of ID qualify.
What if I’m turned away?
Most states are required to offer residents a provisional ballot if poll workers can’t find your registration, which can happen if there’s a clerical error. Be sure to ask for a provisional ballot, which will be counted once election officials verify your registration.
Can I vote by mail?
Many states require mail-in ballots to be postmarked by Election Day, so if you haven’t requested one by now, it may be too late. Depending on your state, you may be able to pick up and return a mail ballot at an election office.
How do I report voter suppression?
You can contact the election office for your state or territory, or you can file a report with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. The Justice Department also runs a voting rights hotline at 1-800-253-3931. The American Civil Liberties Union runs a nonpartisan hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
When will we know results?
Votes cast in person on Tuesday will be counted by that night, though state laws vary for when election workers can start counting mail-in ballots. If a race turns out to be lopsided, a winner could be declared soon after the polls close. Be prepared to wait until late Tuesday night — or beyond — if it is a tight contest.
Reporting from New York
New York City residents are poised to elect Eric Adams as the second Black mayor and Alvin Bragg as the first Black district attorney of Manhattan. Follow our updates.
Local school board races are normally sleepy political contests that garner little attention, but not this year. School elections nationwide have become partisan contests with unusually high participation, sparked by debates over mask mandates and teachings on race.
Candidates have drawn money and help from politicians and outside groups — some hoping that these elections increase enthusiasm and turnout in next year’s midterms. Here are some of the races we’re watching.
Mequon-Thiensville School Board
This special recall election in an affluent suburb north of Milwaukee pits four incumbents against challengers, led by Scarlett Johnson, a local mother who claims the system of 3,700 school students is influenced by critical race theory.
While Wisconsin school board races are supposedly nonpartisan, it’s clearly red vs. blue in Mequon-Thiensville. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican running for governor in 2022, visited to help get-out-the-vote efforts for the challengers, and Dick Uihlein, a wealthy Republican megadonor from Illinois, contributed money.
Blue Valley School District
A slate of three candidates in this district southwest of Kansas City has support from the 1776 Project, a national political action committee that claims critical race theory is hostile to white people. The PAC has raised more than $400,000 to bolster more than 50 school board candidates across the country — focusing on campaigns in seven states.
Andrew Van Der Laan, a local business consultant running against one of the 1776 Project candidates, points out that there is no critical race theory in the district’s curriculum. “It does not seem to be a pressing issue,” said Mr. Van Der Laan, whose platform focuses on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic by measuring learning loss among students and figuring out how to make up for it.
Bay Village School District
This suburb west of Cleveland is home to one of the more hotly contested school board races in Ohio, where all 660 districts are holding elections. There is a statewide total of 2,628 candidates — a 30 percent increase since 2019.
In Bay Village, residents say they have received a barrage of literature and social media. One slate of three candidates is backed by a group called Ohio Value Voters, which opposes critical race theory and sex education in schools. Another group, Protect Ohio’s Future, which says it supports diversity and inclusion, has endorsed the other three candidates.
Denver Public Schools
Charter schools — not critical race theory — are the big issue in this race that has drawn more than $800,000 in outside spending. Twelve candidates are running for four open seats on the school board, which serves 92,000 students, with most aligned with either teachers’ unions or so-called education reform groups that support the creation of charter schools.
Voters across the country — shown here from Georgia, New York, Virginia and Minnesota — woke up early to beat the lines on Tuesday.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey is hoping to do what the state’s last three Democratic governors have failed to accomplish: win re-election.
Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican trying to deny Mr. Murphy that victory, reminded voters of the dry spell as he barnstormed in recent weeks, visiting diners, veterans halls and more diners, hammering home his campaign’s Wall Street-versus-Main Street theme.
“He’s taking us to a different place,” Mr. Ciattarelli said of Mr. Murphy, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive and self-described progressive. “It’s not who we are.”
If public polling proves accurate, Mr. Murphy, 64, is poised to outrun state history and become the first Democratic governor that voters send back to Trenton for a second term since 1977, when Brendan T. Byrne was re-elected.
But with New Jersey’s one of just two U.S. governors’ races ahead of next year’s midterm elections, all eyes are on the margins and the clues they might offer about Democrats’ odds of moving President Biden’s ambitious agenda across the finish line and retaining their slim majority in Congress.
Every seat in the State Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, is also on the ballot on Tuesday, and voters will face two referendums, including one that would allow betting on New Jersey college teams and collegiate events held in the state.
New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2018, and in September became the first state in the country to rake in more than $1 billion in bets in a single month. But collegiate events held in the state, or those involving New Jersey teams playing elsewhere, were excluded because of concerns over cheating.
The 2020 presidential election was held predominantly using mail-in ballots to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But this year, for the first time, voters in New Jersey were able to cast ballots early — on machines.
Roughly 208,000 of the state’s 6.5 million voters took advantage of the nine-day early voting window, which included four weekend days.
Democrats have expanded their voting edge in New Jersey over the last decade, and now have nearly 1.1 million more people registered than Republicans do, widening the gap by roughly 400,000 voters since 2011. Mr. Byrne won re-election by just under 300,000 votes.
The final sprint to Tuesday laid bare one of the main differences in the two candidates’ campaigns.
Mr. Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, crisscrossed the state in a black S.U.V., shaking hands at booths in at least 14 diners in the last week.
Mr. Murphy stumped with national Democratic luminaries, including former President Barack Obama, the first lady, Jill Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
He also maximized the power of incumbency, appearing with President Biden to discuss a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that has been bogged down in Washington and its importance for fixing things like the Portal Bridge, an old and cranky movable rail span a few miles from Manhattan that regularly delays rush-hour commutes.
Four recent public polls showed Mr. Murphy ahead by a comfortable margin.
But at a get-out-the-vote rally with Mr. Murphy at Rutgers University on Thursday, Senator Sanders warned an enthusiastic crowd of students that turnout was expected to be low, and that victory would be in the margins.
“Let us win this election,” he said. “Let us win it in landslide proportions. And let us tell Republicans that their day is over in New Jersey.”
Polls since the preliminary election in the Boston mayor’s race have shown Michelle Wu with a substantial lead over her opponent, Annissa Essaibi George. Both women are Democrats and at-large city councilors.
Though Asian Americans are the country’s fastest-growing electorate, Asian American candidates have not fared well in big-city races. Of the country’s 100 largest cities, six have Asian American mayors, all in California or Texas, according to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.
Ms. Wu, a protegee of Senator Elizabeth Warren, began her political career in Boston as it was turning a corner, its electorate increasingly young, well-educated and left-leaning.
She proposes to make Boston a laboratory for progressive policy; to reapportion city contracts to firms owned by Black Bostonians; to pare away the power of the police union; to waive fees for some public transportation; and to restore a form of rent control, a prospect that alarms real estate interests.
“In nearly a decade in city government, I have learned that the easiest thing to do in government is nothing,” Ms. Wu said. “And in trying to deliver change, there will be those who are invested in the status quo who will be disrupted, or uncomfortable, or even lose out.”
Critics says Ms. Wu is promising change she cannot deliver, since several signature policies, like rent control, require action by state bodies outside the mayor’s control.
“Michelle talks, day in and day out, about things that are not real,” said Ms. Essaibi George, who has run as a pragmatic centrist and is an ally of former Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “My style is to be accurate in the things I say out loud, and to make promises I can truly keep.”
Most of the political world’s attention on Tuesday will be focused on Virginia, where former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is trying to return to his old office in a run against Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy Republican business executive.
Polls show the race is a dead heat. And the themes of the contest — with Mr. McAuliffe trying relentlessly to tie Mr. Youngkin to former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Youngkin focusing on how racial inequality is taught in schools, among other cultural issues — have only amplified the election’s potential as a national bellwether. The results will be closely studied by both parties for clues about what to expect in the 2022 midterms.
While the Virginia race is Tuesday’s marquee matchup, there are other notable elections taking place. Voters in many major American cities will choose their next mayor, and some will weigh in on hotly contested ballot measures, including on the issue of policing. There’s another governor’s race in New Jersey, too. Here is what to watch in some of the key contests that will provide the most detailed and textured look yet at where voters stand more than nine months into the Biden administration.
Democrats have won Virginia in every presidential contest since 2008. Last year, it wasn’t particularly close. Mr. Biden won by 10 percentage points.
But Virginia also has a history of bucking the party of a new president — the state swung to the G.O.P. in 2009, during former President Barack Obama’s first year in office — and Republicans hope Mr. Youngkin has found a formula for success in the post-Trump era.
To prevail, Mr. Youngkin needs to cut into the margins in suburban Northern Virginia, where voters have made the state increasingly Democratic, while also turning out a Republican base that remains motivated by Mr. Trump.
His playbook has focused heavily on education, attacking Mr. McAuliffe for a debate remark that parents should not be directing what schools teach and capitalizing on a broader conservative movement against schools teaching about systemic racism. The result: Education has been the top issue in the race, according to an October Washington Post poll, giving Republicans the edge on a topic that has traditionally favored Democrats.
Mr. McAuliffe has aggressively linked Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump, who endorsed the Republican but never traveled to Virginia to campaign for him. If Mr. Youngkin loses, it will showcase the G.O.P.’s ongoing challenge in being associated with Mr. Trump, even without Mr. Trump on the ballot. But if Mr. McAuliffe loses, it will intensify pressure on Democrats to develop a new, proactive message.
Control of the Virginia House of Delegates is also up for grabs. For now, Democrats have an edge of 55-45 seats that they built during the Trump years.
In the New Jersey governor’s race, the Democratic incumbent, Philip D. Murphy, is up for re-election. Polls have shown Mr. Murphy ahead, but Mr. Biden’s weakening job approval rating in the solidly Democratic state — which stood at 43 percent in a recent Monmouth poll — is a cause of concern. The results will be watched for evidence of how much of the erosion in Mr. Biden’s support has seeped down-ballot.
It is not the biggest city with a mayor’s race on Tuesday, but the City Hall battle in Buffalo, N.Y., may be the most fascinating.
India Walton, who would be the first socialist to lead a major American city in decades, defeated the incumbent Democratic mayor, Byron Brown, in the June primary. But Mr. Brown is now running a write-in campaign.
Ms. Walton has won the backing of progressives, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and some party leaders, like Senator Chuck Schumer, but other prominent Democrats have stayed neutral, most notably Gov. Kathy Hochul, a lifelong resident of the Buffalo region.
In Boston, the runoff puts two City Council members, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, against each other, with Ms. Wu running as the progressive. Ms. Wu, who is backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, finished in first place in the primary.
In New York City, Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn and a Democrat, is expected to win the mayor’s race and has already fashioned himself as a national figure. “I am the face of the new Democratic Party,” Mr. Adams declared after his June primary win.
In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez, a rare big-city Republican mayor, is heavily favored to win re-election and is lined up to become the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, giving him a national platform.
And in Atlanta, a crowded field of 14 candidates, including the City Council president, Felicia Moore, is expected to lead to a runoff as former Mayor Kasim Reed attempts to make a comeback.
One recurring theme in municipal races is policing, as communities grapple with the “defund the police” slogan that swept the country following the police killing of George Floyd last year. The debate is raging inside the Democratic Party over how much to overhaul law enforcement — and over how to talk about such an overhaul.
Perhaps nowhere is the issue more central than in Minneapolis, the city where Mr. Floyd was killed, sparking civil unrest across the country. Voters there will decide on a measure to replace the troubled Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.
Mayor Jacob Frey, who is up for re-election, has opposed that measure and pushed for a more incremental approach. His challengers, among them Sheila Nezhad, want a more aggressive approach.
Policing is a key issue not only in the Buffalo mayor’s race, but also in mayoral contests in Seattle, Atlanta and in Cleveland, where an amendment that would overhaul how the city’s police department operates is on the ballot as well.
The mayor’s race in Cleveland puts Justin Bibb, a 34-year-old political newcomer, against Kevin Kelley, the City Council president. Mr. Bibb supports the police amendment and Mr. Kelley opposes it.
There are two special elections for House races in Ohio, with Shontel Brown, a Democratic Cuyahoga County Council member, expected to win a heavily Democratic seat in Cleveland. Mike Carey, a longtime Republican coal lobbyist, is favored in a district that sprawls across a dozen counties.
Mr. Carey faces Allison Russo, a Democrat endorsed by Mr. Biden. Mr. Carey’s margin in a seat that Mr. Trump carried by more than 14 points last year will be another valuable indicator of the political environment.
In Florida, a primary is being held for the seat of Representative Alcee Hastings, who died earlier this year. The winner will be favored in a January special election.
The only statewide races happening in Pennsylvania on Tuesday are for the courts. The most closely watched contest is for the State Supreme Court, which features two appeals court judges, the Republican Kevin Brobson and the Democrat Maria McLaughlin. Democrats currently hold a 5-2 majority on the court and the seat being vacated was held by a Republican, so the result will not swing control.
But millions of dollars in advertising are pouring into the state, a sign not just of the increasing politicization of judicial contests, but also of the state’s role as a top presidential battleground.