The seven Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022

Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to hold on to their ultra-thin Senate majority this year in a midterm election cycle that has seen several of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents face voters amid rising inflation and soaring gas prices.

Republicans need only win one new seat this year to regain control of the upper chamber. Still, Democrats are more optimistic about their chances of holding their Senate majority than their House majority, and are reviewing several opportunities to flip seats held by the GOP.

Here are the seven Senate seats most likely to rotate in November:

Pennsylvania

The resignation of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and President Biden’s narrow victory in Keystone state in 2020 turned Pennsylvania into perhaps the most contested battleground of the midterm elections and gave Democrats one of the few opportunities this year to take control of to take over a GOP – held Senate seat.

Democrats have turned down the Senate bid from Lt. Gov John Fetterman. He easily won the party’s nomination last month, beating his main rival Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) by a margin of 32 points.

Former President Trump-backed candidate, famed doctor Mehmet Oz, secured the Republican nomination, but only after a recount. Ultimately, he defeated his main main opponent, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, by less than 1,000 votes.

The Fetterman-Oz race is still in its infancy, but a USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released this week showed the Democratic lieutenant governor leading by 9 points. But Fetterman and his party are facing a difficult political environment this year, and Oz still has time to solidify his support among Republican voters.

Georgia

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) scored a big win last year, beating former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in a hotly contested runoff that helped Democrats regain the Senate majority.

However, retaining its seat this year is likely to prove more difficult. Democrats are facing strong political headwinds across the country, and his Republican rival, former soccer star Herschel Walker, met little serious opposition in the state’s May 24 Senate primary.

Both parties are already spending heavily to win the Georgia Senate seat, and early polls in the general election indicate an extremely close race. An Eastern Carolina University poll released this week put Warnock and Walker at 46 percent.

Warnock has a huge financial advantage in the race; His most recent federal file shows he has nearly $23 million in the bank, compared to Walker’s $7.1 million. But Georgia’s status as a political battleground is relatively new, and Republicans believe the state has a good chance of hitting back in their direction this November.

Nevada

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) will face former Attorney General Adam Laxalt in November after the Trump-backed nominee won the GOP nomination this week.

Though Cortez Masto is an accomplished activist herself — she’s a former chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and political mentee of the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), — she also faces a difficult environment in one State that in many ways embodies some of the biggest challenges facing Democrats this year.

Nevada has some of the highest gas prices in the country, and the state’s economy — which relies heavily on tourism — took a hit when the COVID-19 pandemic caused hotels, bars and restaurants to close.

At the same time, the Nevada Senate race is expected to test Democratic resilience among Latino voters, who make up a significant portion of the state’s electorate. While these voters have long been a key Democratic constituency, there have been signs in recent years that this may be beginning to change.

Arizona

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) narrowly ousted former Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in a special election in 2020, winning a Senate seat not held by a Democrat in more than 50 years.

He is now running for his first full term in the House of Lords. And while he has the fundraising skills and personal story of a front runner, he faces voters in a very different political environment than he did two years ago.

Of course, Kelly has the benefit of tenure and faces no primary opposition. Meanwhile, half a dozen Republicans are vying for their party’s Senate nomination, including Attorney General Mark Brnovich, businessman Jim Lamon and venture capitalist Blake Masters, who received Trump’s endorsement earlier this month.

But despite the fact that Democrats currently hold both of Arizona’s Senate seats, the state is far from a Democratic stronghold. Early polls show Kelly outperforming his top Republican challengers in hypothetical head-to-head matches. Still, a difficult political climate for Democrats and a motivated GOP voter base could turn the tables this fall.

Wisconsin

Outside of Pennsylvania, the Wisconsin Senate race is one of the Democrats’ best chances to turn over a Republican-held seat.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is vying for a third term in the Senate despite previously pledging to only serve two terms. He’s also a universally despised figure among Democrats, who are hoping his penchant for controversy can help lead them to victory in November.

The Wisconsin primary is nearly two months away, but the frontrunners fighting for the Democratic Senate nomination are Lt. Gov Mandela Barnes, Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks manager Alex Lasry and Outagamie County manager Tom Nelson.

Of course, while Johnson is a nationally polarizing figure, he has previously demonstrated his ability to weather tough elections, defeating former Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) twice in 2010 and 2016.

New Hampshire

On the surface, New Hampshire is the Senate battleground that offers perhaps the best chance of a seat for the Democrats. Biden led the state by a 7-point margin in 2020 after Sen. Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) narrowly ousted incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (RN.H.) four years earlier.

Republicans were also dealt a blow last year when Gov. Chris Sununu (R) decided against a Senate bid, leaving a crowded primary field to contest for the nomination. Among the Republicans running are Senate President Chuck Morse, former Londonderry City Manager Kevin Smith and retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc.

Despite this, Hassan won her last election by only about 1,000 votes and, like Democrats across the country, faces a challenging political environment in a state that has a penchant for flipping between parties.

However, one advantage she has is time. The New Hampshire primary doesn’t come up until mid-September, meaning it will be months before Republicans know who their nominee is.

North Carolina

North Carolina may be an eternal battleground, but Democrats have had a tough time in the state in recent years. Trump wore it twice and Democrats suffered a frustrating defeat in 2016 when their Senate nominee Cal Cunningham lost to Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) after embarrassing revelations about an extramarital affair.

This year, however, no candidate will have the incumbent advantage that Tillis had. Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) is not seeking re-election. Rep. Ted Budd (RN.C.), whom Trump endorsed last year, emerged from the state’s GOP primary on May 17, while former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley (DN.C.) easily won the democratic nod.

Democrats see Beasley as the ideal choice for the seat. If elected, she would be the first black US senator from North Carolina. And she has previously won national races.

But turning Burr’s seat won’t be easy. Republicans have largely rallied around Budd as their nominee, and he has the support of GOP power players, including the conservative Club for Growth, which has spent millions of dollars promoting him in the primary.

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