The race for the House is tilting strongly toward the GOP, but what’s keeping this cycle interesting is the unpredictability of the Senate map. Here are the seats that could flip:
1. Pennsylvania: The race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey represents Democrats’ best pickup opportunity. President Joe Biden narrowly won the commonwealth in 2020, after former President Donald Trump had carried it in 2016, making it a pivotal battleground for the midterms and the next presidential contest. The tight Senate race is between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor.
2. Nevada: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s task to win over voters dissatisfied with Biden is complicated with a transient population in a state that was hit hard by the pandemic and where average gas prices remain near $5 a gallon. Cortez Masto and her GOP challenger Adam Laxalt were tied at 47% in a the New York Times/Siena poll — a similar finding to a recent CBS poll and CNN polling from early October, which showed no clear leader.
3. Georgia: No race has seen more drama in the last month than Georgia, where Trump’s hand-picked candidate, Herschel Walker, is facing allegations from two women that he urged them to get abortions, which he has denied. But the accusations, which have played into the Democratic narrative about the retired football star being a hypocrite, don’t seem to have done much damage to his standing in the race against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who’s seeking a full six-year term. After at first steering clear of the allegations, Warnock used them in a recent ad against his opponent.
4. Wisconsin: As the only Republican senator running for reelection in a state Biden won in 2020, Sen. Ron Johnson is the chamber’s most vulnerable GOP incumbent. A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed no clear leader in the race between Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes — similar to a CNN survey from mid-October — which is comparable to the close governor’s race. Biden only carried Wisconsin by less than half a point in 2020, so it’s still a tough state.
5. Arizona: The race between Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and Republican Blake Masters has also narrowed. A Fox News poll released Tuesday shows no clear leader with Masters picking up support from Republicans. But Kelly, who won a 2020 special election and is running for a full six-year term, has proved a much more resilient Democrat to tarnish than some of the GOP’s other targets. That has kept this race — in a purple state Biden won by less than half a point — more competitive for Democrats.
6. North Carolina: The race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr looks closer than many observers had expected at the beginning of the cycle. Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Rep. Ted Budd were tied among registered voters in a late October Marist poll. Budd, a third-term congressman, had a small edge among definite voters. North Carolina is accustomed to close elections — Trump only won it by about 1 point in 2020. But Democrats haven’t won a Senate race here since 2008, the last time the state went blue at the presidential level.
7. New Hampshire: This race’s position on the rankings continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 cycle. Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc is taking on first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan after making it through the September primary.
8. Ohio: The race for retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s seat wasn’t supposed to be competitive. Trump won the state by 8 points and, with the exception of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s success, it’s been trending red over the past decade. Given those fundamentals and the national mood, Republicans still very much have the edge here, which is why it’s in the second half of this list. But there’s no denying that Trump’s hand-picked Republican candidate, J.D. Vance, struggled to raise money and consolidate GOP support after a divisive primary. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan had the airwaves mostly to himself over the summer, and his vast fundraising advantage has allowed him to run plenty of ads in which he says he has sided with Trump on trade and takes on his own party. The candidates were essentially tied in a late October Marist survey.
9. Florida: The Sunshine State has ranked lower on the list of seats most likely to flip because Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — although he’s been out-raised by a strong challenger in Democratic Rep. Val Demings — is a two-term incumbent who seems to be doing everything he needs to do to win in this environment.
10. Colorado: Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is used to close races; he won his last reelection in 2016 by just 6 points against a GOP challenger whom the national party had abandoned. He’s facing a much more formidable opponent this time in businessman Joe O’Dea, who has expressed support for abortion in the early stages of pregnancy and has criticized Trump. Biden’s smaller margin in Colorado — he won Washington by 19 points — makes it more likely to flip if the national environment gives Republicans a chance to pick up a seat in a state seen as safely blue.