CNN vets key 2022 Senate races

CNN has identified 10 Senate seats it considers mostly like to change hands in 2022. Each party currently holds 5 of them, so if all 10 seats flip, the Senate’s partisan composition will stay the same — 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. That would be a win, of sorts, for the Democrats as the president’s party usually loses midterm elections.

But some of those seats are more vulnerable than others. All 4 open seats due to retirements are held by Republicans. And of the 4 seats most likely to change hands, 3 are held by Republicans. So, by CNN‘s reckoning, the odds favor the Democrats gaining a seat or two.

The most vulnerable seat, CNN says, is in Pennsylvania, where Biden won by over 80,000 votes and Sen. Pat Toomey (R), who won by a measly 1.5% margin in 2016, isn’t running for re-election and there’s no obvious GOP heavyweight to replace him.

The most vulnerable incumbent is thought to be Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who won a special election in January but has to run for re-election in 2022. He replaced Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the job and has never won an election. Both of the GOP senators defeated in that special election were embroiled in insider stock trading scandals. David Perdue, the stronger candidate of the two, won’t run in 2022; Loeffler might, but she’ll be a weak candidate that Warnock could knock off again. If Warnock faces a stronger GOP opponent, his seat may flip.

Third on the list is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI; photo, above left), who may not seek re-election, and if he does, he could be dog food for a strong Democratic candidate, because frankly he’s nuts. His attempts to blow off the Capitol insurrection as not all that serious aren’t going over well even with his own Senate colleagues.

Rounding out the top 4 is North Carolina, whose Sen. Richard Burr (R) voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial. He was going to retire anyway, but if he wasn’t that would have cooked his goose for renomination. His GOP replacement could be a former governor, while the Democrats so far only have a couple of state senators with their oars in the water, and Trump won this state by nearly 75,000 votes, so this is uphill for the Democrats.

The other 6 Senate seats that CNN regards as flippable are Ohio, where Sen. Rob Portman (R) is retiring but the state’s Republican lean probably will keep the seat in GOP hands; Arizona, where newly-elected Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is popular, the state GOP is bitterly divided, and both of its two top contenders lost Senate elections; Florida, where GOP Sen. Marco Rubio is a forgettable lightweight but his party has an edge in statewide elections; and Democratic senators in Nevada, New Hampshire, and Colorado who represent swing states but don’t have any particular barriers to re-election.

It is, of course, very early — one might even say premature — to be making predictions about the 2022 elections. Much may depend on how popular Biden is by then. But everyone loves to play these political guessing games, and I’m no exception.

By my reckoning, too, the odds favor the Democrats holding the senate. I feel unsure enough about their chances in Pennsylvania that I’ll assume it stays in GOP hands. I don’t take Warnock’s re-election for granted, but the fact he did won suggests he could win again, especially if his opponent is the same one he just defeated. In Wisconsin, Johnson had no business being a senator in the first place, but the voters there elected him, so I don’t trust that state’s voters. Otherwise, the odds should favor a flip there. Finally, I would guess that none of the remaining seats will flip, so I think a 51-49 Democratic senate is a 50% probability (based on Warnock winning and Johnson losing), a 50-50 senate is a 25% probability (based on both winning, or both losing), and a 51-49 Republican senate is a 25% probability (based on Johnson winning and Warnock losing). Therefore, I rate the Democrats retaining the senate a 75% probability, as things stand now. This estimate, of course, is subject to change.

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0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    There are too many unknowns to make predictions. CNN needs to sell advertising and make it look like there are exciting races out there, even when there isn’t. [This comment has been edited.]

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    Well, I gotta do something to get people to read this blog …

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