The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022
Senate contests are increasingly becoming nationalized affairs, so while candidate quality does matter (see No. 10 on this list), Democrats face a tough challenge in holding their razor-thin Senate majority, regardless of which Republicans they’re facing.
CNN’s ranking of the Senate seats most likely to flip saw a few changes in May, all in Republicans’ favor. But the states that held May primaries remain in the same positions for now, with uncertainty still reigning in Pennsylvania. The ranking, which will be updated in June, is based on CNN’s reporting and fundraising and advertising data, as well as historical data about how states and candidates have performed.
Incumbent: Republican Pat Toomey (retiring)
Counties need to finish recounting — which they must do using a different device than the one used in the initial tabulation — by noon on June 7 and submit their results by noon on June 8. CNN has not made a projection in the race.
The winner will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who easily won the Democratic nomination on May 17.
Political commentator Kathy Barnette emerged as a late electoral threat to both men, with the political arm of the Club for Growth announcing a nearly $2 million investment to boost her candidacy, as well as the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List and CatholicVote backing her. That late surge wasn’t enough, though. Barnette trailing Oz and McCormick.
The lingering question in the Keystone State is whether Trump’s backing of Oz will have made a difference if he holds on to his narrow lead after the recount — and what that means for the general election. Oz’s negatives were notably high compared with his opponents in a Fox poll ahead of the primary. Forty-six percent had an unfavorable view of Oz, while 27% and 12% had unfavorable views of McCormick and Barnette, respectively.
The former Braddock mayor finished with about 59% of the vote to 26% for US Rep. Conor Lamb, who’s also from western Pennsylvania, but ran as more of a moderate and highlighted his success defeating “Trump Republicans” in his Pittsburgh-area House seat.
Incumbent: Democrat Raphael Warnock
One unknown wrinkle, however, is how the loss of Trump’s endorsed candidates for other statewide offices in the Peach State’s GOP primaries could shape turnout in the fall. Georgia proved that Republican voters, even committed Trump supporters, won’t necessarily follow his lead at the ballot box. They chose to stick with GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, for example, despite the former President railing against him for refusing to help him overturn the 2020 election. But some GOP strategists are still afraid of a repeat of the January 2021 Senate runoffs, when Trump’s outspoken criticism of the election system may have kept some of his voters home, allowing Democrats to pick up both of the state’s Senate seats.
Incumbent: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto
Incumbent: Democrat Mark Kelly
Incumbent: Republican Ron Johnson
But Biden is also unpopular in Wisconsin. After winning the state with about 49% in 2020, his approval rating has hovered at about 43%, with some 53% disapproving, since last fall. The winner of the Democratic primary in August will likely be tied to Biden, especially with inflation emerging as a top concern, according to the Marquette poll, and worries over the coronavirus (about which Johnson has said plenty of controversial things) reaching a new low.
6. New Hampshire
Incumbent: Democrat Maggie Hassan
7. North Carolina
Incumbent: Republican Richard Burr (retiring)
Incumbent: Republican Marco Rubio
Incumbent: Republican Rob Portman (retiring)
Only Dolan ran truly outside the Trump election conspiracy lane in the GOP primary. Interestingly, his stock had risen in polling right before the election, presaging his third-place finish ahead of candidates who had tried to tie themselves more closely to Trump, including former state party chair Jane Timken, who had the backing of retiring Sen. Rob Portman, and businessman Mike Gibbons.
Incumbent: Republican Roy Blunt (retiring)
Some Democrats smell opportunity. Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and Anheuser-Busch beer heiress, jumped into the race this spring. She hasn’t said how much she’ll invest in her campaign, but should this race become competitive, Democrats may benefit from having a candidate with her own money to spend. But Valentine first has a primary to win — while one Democrat dropped out of the race and endorsed her, the top fundraiser, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
This story has been updated with additional details in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina.