For those who enjoyed a break from political ads for a little while, get used to them ramping up again after the holiday season, if not sooner.
Election Day, held for many earlier this month, might not have had much fanfare because it wasn’t a year in which a president or congressional members were elected, but it did serve as a kickoff to what will be another important election in 2022.
Can the Democrats maintain control of the Senate and House of Representatives? What will the mood of voters be halfway through President Joe Biden’s tenure?
With less than a year until the midterm elections, here’s an overview of the landscape and key races.
What is the margin of error for Democrats?
It’s razor thin in both the Senate and the House. In the Senate, Republicans have 50 seats to 48 for Democrats, but the two Independents vote along with the Democrats, giving Democrats a majority since Vice President Kamala Harris represents any tie-breaking vote. In the House, Democrats have 222 seats to 213 for the Republicans, meaning it’s a five-seat difference at the moment for a majority.
What seats are up for grabs in 2022?
All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs, so, as mentioned above, Republicans can take a majority by gaining just five seats. In the 2020 presidential election, Republicans narrowed the Democratic majority in the House from 232-197 to 222-213. In the Senate, there are 34 seats in play, 20 of which are held by Republicans and 14 by Democrats. Republicans held 53 seats prior to the 2020 election.
Did the election have any effect on what will happen in the next year?
According to political pundits, what took place earlier this month reflected a mood from voters that could prove to be troubling for Biden and the Democrats.
In Virginia, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin had a surprisingly comfortable win over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Biden won Virginia by 10 points in the 2020 election.
In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy managed to win re-election, but it was a much closer race over Republican Jack Ciattarelli than expected.
The coming months will determine if those races are signs of a bigger trend nationally favoring the Republicans.
What are the key Senate races in 2022?
Since there are only 50 Senate seats compared to 435 in the House, let’s focus on the Senate for now. Many races are still taking shape, but early on, here are the ones to keep a close eye on, as referenced by the states being represented in Washington, D.C.
- Georgia. Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, won a highly publicized runoff election for this seat earlier this year, beating out Kelly Loefler, who was appointed to the seat by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in December 2019 after the resignation of Johnny Isakson due to health reasons. Warnock will have a tough battle because his opponent is likely to be former NFL standout Herschel Walker, who won a Heisman Trophy while playing college football at Georgia and is a legendary figure in the state.
- Pennsylvania. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has decided not to run for re-election, opening this seat up in what should be a hotly contested race between new candidates on both the Democratic and Republican sides.
- North Carolina. Republican Sen. Richard Burr is not running for re-election, opening this up for new candidates in both parties.
- Wisconsin. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is still debating whether to run for a third term, but regardless of whether he does, Democrats are eyeing this seat as an opportunity to flip. In mid-August, only 35% of Wisconsin voters said they viewed Johnson favorably in a Marquette University Law School poll. But as is the case with any incumbent, they can quickly gain the favor of voters with certain acts and legislation passed before an election.
- New Hampshire. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is facing her first re-election bid after winning the seat in 2016 by a margin of just .1%. Republicans are seeing it as a chance to defeat her.
- Arizona. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will have to win the seat again two years after beating Republican incumbent Martha McSally in a race that produced litigation from Republicans about the results. Kelly will have a battle on his hands against one of five Republicans who have announced bids for the nomination.