U.S. Democrats claimed an upset win in Kentucky on Tuesday over a Republican governor backed by President Donald Trump and seized control of the state legislature in Virginia, where anti-Trump sentiment in the suburbs remained a potent force.
The outcomes of Tuesday's elections in four states, including Mississippi and New Jersey, could offer clues to how next year's presidential election could unfold, when Trump will aim for a second four-year term.
In Kentucky, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, whose father, Steve, was the state's last Democratic governor, scored a narrow victory over Governor Matt Bevin despite an election-eve rally headlined by Trump.
In a speech in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday night, Trump - who won Kentucky by 30 percentage points in 2016 - told voters that they needed to re-elect Bevin, or else pundits would say the president "suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world."
The remarks reflected the extent to which Bevin, 52, sought to nationalize the campaign, emphasizing his support for Trump amid a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry of the Republican president in Congress.
While the result was a significant setback for Trump, who remains relatively popular in Kentucky, it may have had more to do with Bevin's diminished standing in the state. Opinion polls showed Bevin may be the least popular governor in the country, after he waged high-profile fights with labor unions and teachers.
Beshear's upset win could also bolster Democrats' slim hopes of ousting Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is on the ballot himself in the state next year.
At a rally on Tuesday night, Bevin refused to concede, citing unspecified "irregularities," even as Beshear called on the governor to honor the results.
Trump asserted on Twitter that his rally had helped Bevin avoid a bigger loss and boasted that Republicans had won several other statewide races.