election 2022

The most important midterm elections to watch ahead of Election Day

Nevada’s Senate race could go either way. Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott likely to cruise to re-election. And John Fetterman still leads in Pennsylvania, Eric Garcia writes

Wednesday 26 October 2022 02:57 BST
Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis
Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis (Getty/EPA)

Election Day is just weeks away and the 2022 midterm races are entering their final sprint.

Republicans are still hoping that Americans’ frustration with inflation and the economy, as well as rising crime, will obfuscate their concerns about the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade.

Conversely, Democrats hope to make abortion a centrepiece of the election, but also hope to point “MAGA Republicans” as threats to democracy and highlight the January 6 insurrection.

Here are the most important elections to watch this cycle.

Nevada Senate

Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in Nevada since 2012. President Joe Biden won the state by about the same margin Hillary Clinton did but his approval rating remains low in the state at 44 per cent, according to a CBS News/YouGov from this month.

That same poll showed former attorney general Adam Laxalt beating Senator Catherine Cortez Masto by one point, 49 to 48 per cent.

At the same time, polls have historically missed the mark in Nevada. Therefore, the best barometer to see who is ahead is early voting, which began this last weekend.

The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the state’s hospitality industry when plenty of Latinos are becoming more disillusioned with the Democratic Party. All of this makes Nevada the most likely Senate seat to flip.

Ms Cortez Masto, the first and so far only Latina senator, is seeking reelection against Mr Laxalt, the former attorney general and grandson of the former senator and governor Paul Laxalt. Former president Donald Trump traveled to Nevada this month to shore up support for his preferred candidate. Ms Cortez Masto for her part has criticised Mr Laxalt for promoting the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Senate

The race to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey has easily become the ugliest and most intensely personal race of the 2022 midterm cycle. That race comes to a head on Tuesday when Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman squares off against Mehmet Oz in Harrisburg on Tuesday evening.

Mr Fetterman’s lead against Dr Oz has eroded, thanks to a barrage of ads painting the Democrat as soft on crime. A CBS News/YouGov poll released the day of the debate showed Mr Fetterman with a two-point lead against Dr Oz at 51 to 49 per cent. The same survey showed that Dr Oz consolidated his support among Republicans. In September, 87 per cent of likely Republican voters said they supported Dr Oz; that number jumped to 94 per cent. But his numbers, enthusiasm for him dropped.

Conversely, Democratic excitement for Mr Fetterman dropped, as in September, 63 per cent of likely Democratic voters were “very enthusiastic.” That number dropped to 47 per cent in October. Similarly, some have criticised Mr Fetterman for his need to use closed captioning after he experienced a stroke in May to assist with auditory processing. Mr Fetterman will use such a service in the debate on Tuesday evening.

(Getty Images)

Georgia Senate

The Georgia Senate race entered centre-stage this month afterThe Daily Beast reported that Republican nominee Herschel Walker reportedly paid for a woman’s abortion despite his vocal opposition to it on the campaign trail. The New York Times later corroborated the story and reported that Mr Walker pressured the same woman to have another abortion, which she refused. The Independent has reached out to the Walker campaign. During an interview with NBC News, Mr Walker acknowledged that he wrote the check but denied it was for an abortion.

None of the bad press has deterred Republicans from supporting Mr Walker as he challenges Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. For his part, Mr Warnock has refrained from directly criticising Mr Walker on the accusation for abortion, but a poll showed that support for Mr Walker dropped. The two squared off in only one debate this month, wherein Mr Walker accused Mr Warnock of being a rubber stamp for Mr Biden’s agenda. Meanwhile, Mr Warnock criticised Mr Walker, a former University of Georgia running back, of pretending to be a police officer, which led to Mr Walker flashing an honorary badge he received.

Arizona governor

Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running neck-and-neck against Republican nominee and former news anchor Kari Lake. Ms Lake has robustly parroted Mr Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen, while Ms Hobbs became a target of threats as she oversaw the election.

In an interview with CNN this month, Ms Lake did not commit to accepting the election results, repeatedly saying “I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result.”

But many Democrats worry Ms Hobbs has fumbled her chances to flip Arizona’s governorship after she refused to debate Ms Lake. The same Sunday as Ms Lake’s interview with CNN, host Dana Bash asked if Ms Hobbs supported any limits on abortion, which Ms Hobbs dodged. Polling shows the two are locked in a tight race. The race could determine whether a Republican like Ms Lake could defy the will of the people if the state votes for a Democrat and refuse to certify the election results in favor of a Republican.

(Getty Images)

Arizona Senate

Arizona’s Senate race is far less swingy, though still contested. Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and Republican opponent Blake Masters squared off last week during a debate. The same CBS News/YouGov poll showed Mr Kelly leads Mr Masters 51 to 48 per cent. In recent months, Mr Masters has attempted to back-pedal his previous hardline position on abortion, even scrubbing his website.

Mr Kelly hit Mr Masters in their debate for also erasing parts of his website about the “big lie.” Mr Masters, for his part, has tried to tie Mr Kelly to Mr Biden, who, despite winning the state in 2020, is unpopular.

Mr Kelly has released an ad saying he supports closing gaps in the US-Mexico Border, saying he stands “up to the left when they want to defund the police, and I stand up to the right when they want a national abortion ban,” before adding, “when Joe Biden gets it wrong, I call him out.”

Florida and Texas governor

Republican incumbent Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas caused a nationwide stir as they sent immigrants and refugees to Democratic areas of the country as a means to criticise the Biden administration’s policies regarding the US-Mexico border. But despite criticism from Democrats, both men are in a strong position to win re-election. A strong performance by Mr DeSantis, who has become a right-wing hero after he kept the state mostly open during the Covid-19 pandemic, could position him well to run for president in a 2024 Republican primary.

While Democrat Beto O’Rouke repeatedly criticised Mr Abbott for his stances on guns and abortion in their debate and on the campaign trail, a Quinnipiac poll showed that Mr Abbott leads Mr O’Rourke by seven points in the poll and most voters rank the economy as the biggest issue followed by the Texas-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Mr DeSantis and Democrat Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor-turned-Democratic congressman, debated on Monday evening. While Mr DeSantis holds a double-digit lead, he refused to answer a question from Mr Crist asking whether he would serve a full four-year term.

Wisconsin Senate

Wisconsin Democrats have officially called in the big guns to salvage their chances to flip Wisconsin’s Senate race: Former president Barack Obama will head to Milwaukee to stump for candidates for Senate and put out an ad endorsing Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Mr Barnes squared off in two debates this month Mr Barnes tried to paint Mr Johnson as an extremist for minimising the January 6 riot and trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, as well as his position on abortion.

After initially leading in the race, Republicans have hammered Mr Barnes by saying he supports defunding the police, and CNN reported there is evidence he has supported at least moving police funding toward other areas. The Republican appears to have a slight advantage, as a CNN poll showed Mr Johnson beating Mr Barnes 50 to 49 per cent.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in