CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Tuesday night's elections did not go the way Republicans wanted them to go.

J. Miles Coleman with the University of Virginia Center for Politics says abortion access was a big reason why Democrats did as well they did, including right in Virginia, where they secured control of the House of Delegates and maintained a majority in the state Senate.

"I think it was a big energizer for Democrats," he said.

Coleman says Republicans could be hurting themselves, too. A recent poll from Christopher Newport University he referenced shows a majority of Virginia voters support either keeping Virginia's abortion law as is or making abortion law less restrictive, while 24 percent say Virginia should make abortion laws more restrictive.

"It was Republicans that were the ones trying to change it, and that obviously did not work the way they intended," he said.

During the third Republican debate on Wednesday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said conservatives are losing support from voters who may support Republicans but also value abortion rights.

"All the stuff that's happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flat-footed on these referenda, and they have been losing the referenda. A lot of the people voting for the referenda are Republicans who would vote for a Republican candidate," said DeSantis.

Coleman says Republicans should start relating to voters more.

"I think framing these issues in personal terms would be effective," he said.

Just like Republican candidate Nikki Haley did Wednesday night.

"I am unapologetically pro-life. Not because the Republican Party tells me to be, but because my husband, Michael, was adopted and I had trouble having both of my children so I'm surrounded by blessings," she said.

Coleman thinks it will be a topic used against Republicans in 2024, especially, he says, with former President Donald Trump as the likely nominee because it was his appointments to the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade.