Battle for the Senate: 2022 Preview

We’ve just been through one big election.  But it’s only 2 years till the next one.

We’re only two years away from the next Senate elections. Granted, we’re not completely done with the 2020 Senate elections given the Georgia runoffs.   But just 24 months from now, control of the Senate will again be at stake.  On average, the President’s party loses two Senate seats in the off-year elections.  That’s not a universal rule, however. 

What happens in 2022 will shape the second half of Biden’s term. We’ve learned how important the Senate is as the gatekeeper of presidential appointments, with the Barrett appointment as Exhibit #1.  It’s also famously a place where proposed legislation goes to die. There are powerful implications for Senate control in the energy/environment arena as elsewhere.

There will be almost a dozen states in play.  I’m including states where the margin in the last election was under 10%, and two states where Senators coming off of special elections will be trying to retain their seats.  Here’s the list:

Arizona.  After this year’s election, the Arizona Senate seat will once again be on the ballot, in order to get it back to the regular rotation cycle. Mark Kelly will have to defend the seat he just won.

Colorado.  Sen. Bennett (D) will defend his seat.

Florida.  Marco Rubio (R) will be fighting to keep his seat, while also launching his presidential campaign.

Georgia. Another seat that will be on the ballot again in order to get it back on the regular rotation.  (Yes, despite there being two Senate seats on the ballot at this very moment.)

Indiana.  Todd Young (R) won by almost ten points last time, so he’s probably the safest among the group of Senators on my list.

Missouri.  Roy Blunt (R) won by only 2.4% last time around.

New Hampshire. Maggie Hassan won this seat by the slimmest of margins, so Republicans will definitely hope to regain it.

North Carolina.  Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring, so this open seat is up for grabs.

Nevada.  Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) won by only 2% last time, so this is another seat Republicans will hope to gain.

Pennsylvania.  Pat Toomey (R) won in a squeaker last time, He appears to have decided that the odds aren’t good next time.  Democrats should have a real shot at flipping this open seat.

Wisconsin.  Ron Johnson (R) is  likely retiring, leaving this open seat up for grabs.

This list gives the Democrats more opportunities to pick up seats than the Republicans.   It remains to be seen whether they can capitalize on these opportunities more effectively than they were able to earlier this month.

[Note: minor corrections made after input from a reader.]

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Battle for the Senate: 2022 Preview”

  1. Dan, Sen Cortez Masto represents Nevada, not New Mexico. And Ron Johnson (R-WI) has not announced his retirement yet. He equivocated earlier. Finally, Chuck Grassley’s open seat in Iowa will be competitive.

  2. Thanks for the correction on Cortez Masto! I had thought Ron Johnson’s retirement was pretty firm, but I’ve added a qualifier now. Not sure about Iowa — I’ll keep on eye on that one but leaving it out for now.

  3. Prof. Farber, your Legal Planet contributors include some of the best communicators that UC has today, but you must take your communications to the public to a much higher level if we are going to overcome present and prevent future threats to our survival, especially including global warming.

    It is academics like you who have caused me to invoke Mother Jones “Pray for the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living” as my motto, as my past comments to Legal Planet testify.

    The most recent deaths being Trump COVID deaths, as Nancy Pelosi defined it: “Delay, Denial, Death” for Trump’s COVID response failures.

    And the “Living” being all current generations, especially the newest and all future generations that shall suffer the consequences of our current political and academic leadership failures to meet the challenges of change, in spite of warnings documented by preeminent historians Will and Ariel Durant.

    The latest issue of CALFORNIA Magazine cover story is “Her Story: 150 Years of Women at Cal.” Most importantly, this issue really documents the fact that our best resort, especially today, is women to protect and perpetuate an acceptable quality if amygdala dominated men will get out of their way after millennia of failures by male leaders.
    One new leader is Chancellor Carol Christ, our first woman chancellor at last, who must prevail over the failed male establishment and end the academic culture of male domination, especially as time runs out due out of control global warming disasters that male leadership has produced. We must eliminate male domination such as that documented in the new CalMag story “Swift Justice: The Historic Fight for Gender Equality at Berkeley Law” permanently.
    Most importantly it is time for our academic leadership to find a superior way to communicate with the public, since the current male produced methods have failed catastrophically by producing out of control global warming, pandemic, violence and inequality disasters that are overwhelming us today.

    With a new female leadership establishment, we can produce superior methods to inform, educate and motivate the public to protect and perpetuate an acceptable quality of life for our newest and all future generations.

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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