The last three midterm elections were debacles for the party in power, and on paper, November appears worse for Democrats than any of those years.
But Republicans did not nominate the most electable candidates in all U.S. Senate races — with three more key primaries later this summer — and this year’s map, like 2020, is unfavorable for the GOP. Democrats aren’t defending Senate seats in any states President Joe Biden lost, and they have opportunities to replace Republicans in three states that went for Biden two years ago.
Although individual candidates matter, polling shows Biden’s job approval is stuck in the high 30s across many swing states. Unless you’re Susan Collins in Maine, performing more than 10 points ahead of your president’s job approval is rare.
There are many intriguing Senate races across the country, but for now, here are six states most likely to flip — in no particular order:
After moving toward Democrats the past two decades, the Silver State has inched right the past few cycles. Incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto defeated an unknown congressman by only two points six years ago, and Biden beat former President Donald Trump by a similarly small margin in 2020.
Adam Laxalt easily clinched the Republican nomination last week; he comes from a famous political family and even during a bad Republican year last round, he only lost his gubernatorial bid by four points.
Cortez Masto has low statewide approval, making this race a pure toss up and a decent Republican pickup chance.
Republicans desperately wanted popular Gov. Chris Sununu to run against Maggie Hassan, a first-term senator. If he had, the Granite State likely would have a Republican senator next year. But Sununu wants to stay in Concord, and Republicans have a crowded primary against the former Democrat governor, whose polling has been weak. The primary is not until September and, regardless of who Republican voters choose, the general election should be very close.
The Grand Canyon State has trended left the past few cycles. Mitt Romney carried it by nine points in 2012, but Trump won by only three points in 2016 and came up short two years ago.
Republicans have also lost both Senate seats since 2018, with Martha McSally as the candidate each time.
Arizona is mostly a suburban state, and while a national theme is suburbs swinging against the GOP, crime and liberals’ destruction of public schools recently changed this.
The Republican frontrunner won’t be decided until Aug. 2, but Sen. Mark Kelly, a supposed centrist Democrat who mainly votes lockstep with Chuck Schumer, has outraised them all.
The GOP has several candidates, some perhaps less electable than others; nonetheless, it will be a close race with three in five Arizonans currently disapproving of Biden.
An outspoken critic of Biden, Ron Johnson is seeking a third term in a purplish state that has voted Democrat every presidential election but one since 1984. Johnson can be polarizing, but Democrats have their own issues with a socialist lieutenant governor leading the polls. Democrats barely prevailed in a great environment for them in 2018, so it won’t be easy to oust Johnson.
After a bizarre Republican primary that was decided by fewer than 1,000 votes multiple weeks after Election Day, Dr. Mehmet Oz emerged as the candidate hoping to carry on Pat Toomey’s conservative legacy in a blue-leaning state. Factor in Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano’s behavior potentially lessening GOP turnout, and the outcome could be affected.
We all know former pastor Raphael Warnock won a close special election in January 2021 to give Democrats a 50th seat and effective control of the U.S. Senate.
While Warnock is a rubber-stamp progressive, Herschel Walker is a political novice on the stump. But he’s also a legendary football star in the Peach State, and has so far stayed on message by running a savvy, low-key campaign.
Georgia has been trending toward Democrats, but some of that revolves around the former president, as shown last month. Warnock trails in the polls, and with Biden barely at 30% approval in Georgia, Walker has a good shot.
It will also be worth paying attention to Senate races in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio, which are either open seats or have incumbents in a tough race.