The 7 Senate Races That Will Decide Senate Majority In November
Amid a series of legislative wins and successful fundraising campaigns, Democrats are gearing up to go on offense in their battle to hold the razor-thin majority in the US Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans are ramping up spending in key states and have tailored their general election messaging in an effort to thwart the momentum Democrats have built over the course of the summer.
As Election Day approaches, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge of the landscape heading into the final midterm contest in closely watched swing states.
Here’s a look at the seven Senate seats most likely to flip in November:
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) made headlines during the 2020 cycle for pulling off a major upset against former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), but he’s now fighting for his first full term against Republican contender Herschel Walker.
Warnock has outraised Walker and is considered a favorite. He has brought in more than double his GOP opponent’s haul in the second quarter, and has not suffered from the same negative headlines that have plagued Walker. But recent polling has shown a highly competitive race. One factor that could help Walker, who was endorsed by former President Trump, is a former football star and a Heisman Trophy-winning running back at the University of Georgia.
“Football is God in that part of the world, and he is a Trump proxy and he could be successful in rallying a lot of the MAGA faithful,” said Jon Reinish, Democratic strategist and former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Democrats are growing cautiously optimistic about flipping the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R).
A recent poll conducted by Muhlenberg College-Morning Call poll showed Democratic nominee John Fetterman leading Republican Mehmet Oz 49 to 44 percent among likely voters in the state, but the polling falls within the margin of error, effectively tying the two.
The Cook Political Report last month moved the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat,” but Republicans say a lot can still change. Fetterman has sought to paint Oz as an inauthentic carpetbagger from New Jersey, using a social media campaign and other means to troll the Republican candidate.
But Oz’s campaign has hit back, most recently by focusing on Fetterman’s health and fitness to serve, accusing him of hiding from voters and pressing him to debate.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who changed his mind twice about running for re-election, won his first two elections in 2010 and 2016 by single digits, and this year could be a similar nail-biter as he goes up against Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in November.
Several polls have shown Barnes outpacing Johnson. A Marquette University poll showed Barnes leading by 7 points in August. But that lead has evaporated with one poll showing Johnson up by 1 earlier this month.
While Johnson has a history of controversial and incendiary comments that Democrats hope turn off moderate voters, it’s unclear if Barnes can notch a win running as a progressive in a purple state.
Nevada is perhaps Republicans’ best chance at flipping a Senate seat — and the state most likely to cost Democrats their majority. The Cook Political Report rates the seat as a “toss up” and several polls this month have shown the two statistically tied between Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Republican Adam Laxalt.
Masto (D), a former state attorney general who made history in 2016 as the first Latina to be elected to the Senate, has leaned into issues like abortion and sought to emphasize her ties to the Latino community while Laxalt, also a former state attorney general, has campaigned on issues like inflation and human trafficking.
GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s announcement early last year that he would not be seeking reelection led to a faceoff between Republican J.D. Vance and Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan.
Ryan was always expected to face headwinds in the Buckeye State. Former President Obama won the state twice, but, more recently, so did former President Donald Trump.
President Biden’s approval ratings in the state are still underwater. But some Democrats are feeling cautiously hopeful, given he’s represented his district in Congress for nearly two decades and focused his campaign on himself and his state.
Still, a poll from Emerson College and The Hill earlier this month showed Vance leading by 4 points, and Ohio has only one Democratic statewide elected official.
Another Senate Republican not seeking re-election is Sen. Richard Burr (R), of North Carolina. Now, Republican Senate hopeful Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley are vying for the open Senate seat in the state.
Budd was among more than 140 House members who voted to overturn the 2020 election results and has the backing of Trump and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Beasley is a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court and former public defender.
A Civiqs poll released this week showed Beasley leading Budd 49 percent to 48 percent among likely voters, but it falls within the poll’s margin of error.
Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is facing Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters, who received Trump’s endorsement and the backing of GOP megadonor Peter Thiel.
The race was considered a possible Republican pickup opportunity, but there are signs those hopes might be unraveling with one poll from Ohio Predictive Insights showing Masters trailing Kelly by a 12-percentage point margin, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted its rating of the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”
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