This was one of the best years for judicial elections for progressives in a long time. Despite the claim of being nonpartisan, Republicans have dominated recent statewide judicial elections. This year Sarah Parker kept her spot as Chief Justice, Patricia Timmons-Goodson kept the seat she was appointed to on the Supreme Court, and Robin Hudson got elevated from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. A good year for Democrats and justice for sure, but it begs the question of whether voting on judges is the best way to go about selecting our justice system.
The fundamental question in any analysis is weight to be placed on an independent judiciary versus being responsible to the citizenry. The federal courts weigh in entirely on the side of independence, but the states typically fall entirely on the side of political judges. North Carolina attempts to temper this by having public funding of elections and not placing party labels next to candidates names on the ballots (which is a farce with both parties distributing lists of "their" judges). But one has to ask the question that if we do not want politics in judicial races, why do not we not just appoint the judges.
An alternate model adopted in many states has the judges appointed, but the judges must run to be retained every so often (a yes/no vote every 4 years or so). But the underlying question remains whether you want the people charged with doling out justice fairly based on the merits of the case in front of them to be worried about the reaction their ruling may creat in the public and whether that will lose them their job.
I ultimately come down in favor of an independent judiciary appointed by our elected officials. After all the other branhes of the government are elected and will answer to the electorate if they appoint radical justices.