On Tuesday, midterm elections will shape the landscape for years to come. Of particular interest to me is the Senate, which is going to have some very interesting races wrap up next week and beyond.
I look at a lot of polls, both aggregators of polls such as ABC’s FiveThirtyEight, as well as a range of independent polls that are more aligned to the interests of the two major parties. I think that when it comes to polls, reading them widely is the way to go.
The seats that are being retained in the 100-seat Senate chamber are: Republican: 29 of their 50 seats, and Democrat: 36 of their 48 seats. The 2 independent seats - Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I-ME) - sit with the Democrat caucus and are not up for election in 2022.
14 of the 48 Democrat-controlled seats and 21 of the 50 Republican-controlled seats are up for election next week.
For me, there are four key races that will determine control of the Senate: Arizona (currently a Democrat-held seat), Georgia (currently Democrat), Nevada (currently Democrat), and Pennsylvania (currently an open seat that was Republican).
I acknowledge that many people include Wisconsin (currently Republican) in their list of states that could determine control of the Senate but I’ve never felt that this seat was in doubt. It will remain Republican. Some also include Ohio, an open seat that is currently Republican but, again, while it will be a close race I’ve always had this as remaining Republican.
So here’s the state-by-state breakdown of the seats in play next Tuesday, followed by my prediction of where this will all end up:
Alabama: Very easy Republican win, around R+30. (R+30 here is short for my prediction that Republicans will win by 30% over the Democrat candidate).
Alaska: The Alaska polls are all over the place but Lisa Murkowski will win for the GOP. While some polls have it R+13 I think it will be closer to R+7.
Arizona: One of the most important races in the nation and one that I’ve followed very closely. This race is very closely tied to the governor’s race, in which Republican Keri Lake is now ahead after trailing for the vast majority of the campaign. The current numbers on the Arizona Senate race are D+2.8, but I think it’s a dead heat. The key issue here is going to be vote splitting. In other words, will some people who are a bit reluctant to vote for Republican Senate candidate, Blake Masters, vote for him as they’re already planning to vote for the Republican for governor? Or will they split their ticket, vote for a Republican for one of the offices and a Democrat for another? My prediction for Arizona is that Mark Kelly, the Democrat, will win a razor-thin race (around D+1.3) that will head to the courts before it’s finalized.
Arkansas: Easy Republican win as we’re looking at R+17.
California: Extremely easy Democrat win, around D+25.
Colorado: Reasonably easy Democrat win, around D+10.
Connecticut: Easy Democrat win, around D+17.
Florida: Fairly easy win for big-name Republican, Marco Rubio. Around R+10.
Georgia: Another absolutely critical race. First off, a reminder that this will NOT be decided next week. If one candidate doesn’t get 50% of the vote, there is a run-off among the top two candidates on December 6th. That’s what will happen. As for the initial result next week, this crazy race will end round one D+3.(somewhere around 47%-44%), which is a real stretch given the current D+0.7 predicted lead. I just think that some people who say they’re going to vote for Herschel Walker ultimately won’t. Sure, there’s a cogent argument that some people who plan to vote for Walker aren’t excited to tell pollsters about it. I just think that it’s one thing to be an ardent GOP supporter and another for some people on the fence to actually do it next Tuesday. I think that this initial Democrat win will put them over the finish line in Georgia in December.
Hawaii: Easy win for the Democrat incumbent, at least D+20.
Idaho: Easy win for the Republican incumbent, at least R+20.
Illinois: Fairly easy win for big-name Democrat, Tammy Duckworth. Around D+13.
Indiana: A close race that never really felt in doubt will land R+4.
Iowa: Senate icon, Republican Chuck Grassley, will keep his venerable seat, R+13.
Kansas: Easy Republican win, R+19.
Kentucky: Rand Paul keeps his seat, R+16.
Louisiana: Republican landslide at R+40.
Maryland: Democrats hold the seat D+18.
Missouri: Relatively easy Republican win, R+9.
Nevada: Another one of the four key races to determine control of the Senate. Today, Republican challenger Adam Laxalt is up around R+0.5 over incumbent Democrat, Catherine Cortez Masto. Laxalt is the former Nevada Attorney General and is fighting for the seat once occupied by his grandfather, Paul Laxalt. I think that the last name is going to get Laxalt over the finish line in Nevada, where it will ultimately be R+0.3. This is another one of the states that might end up in court before it’s finalized, as it’s going to be very, very close.
New Hampshire: A race that has become closer than it should have been has gone from D+8.0 to D+2.8. This should end somewhere around D+4.
New York: Chuck Schumer easily retains his seat D+20.
North Carolina: In a bit of a back-and-forth race that is less close than it should have been, it will be R+5.5. This had the potential to be a blockbuster national race but never really captured our attention.
North Dakota: Easy win for the Republicans R+16.
Ohio: One of the most contentious national races, Republican J.D. Vance is currently up R+2.3 over Rep. Tim Ryan. I think that when all is said and done on Tuesday, it will be closer to R+4.0
Oklahoma: Oklahoma has a regular and special Senate election in 2022. Both races are going to be at least R+20, so nothing to see here, folks.
Oregon: Solid D+18 win for incumbent Ron Wyden.
Pennsylvania: The race that has captured national attention and it’s bound to become a movie one day, Dr. Oz (many of us have to remind ourselves “really - THAT Dr. Oz???") against John Fetterman, who, at one point, had this election easily won. As we all know, Fetterman is recovering from a stroke and while he may eventually be fine, has lost the confidence of many Pennsylvania voters, according to every reputable poll. This race has gone from D+13 to D+0.8, where it stands today. Tuesday’s result is going to be very close and may head to court. It has already been there this week, with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court deciding not to count un-dated ballots. Ultimately, I’m going to call a race too close to call D+0.2. Fetterman will just make it in but don’t expect a final call on Pennsylvania until later in the week.
South Carolina: Easy Republican hold R+20.
South Dakota: Another easy Republican hold R+26.
Utah: This is a really interesting race. I expected Evan McMullin to make it a closer race than he has but it’s currently R+10 and I don't think that Mike Lee is going to win by less than R+11.
Vermont: Democrats will hold this open seat D+30.
Washington: Another race that I thought would have become more of a fight than its current D+6.1 but it won’t. It will end D+7.8.
Wisconsin: As I described in my intro, I never felt that Ron Johnson’s seat was in play. Today it’s being called R+4.0, I think the end result will be closer to R+3.5 but R nonetheless.
As I always tell people, don’t listen to the polls. Get out and vote. As Joseph Froetschel, a Pennsylvania lawyer, reminds us, vote and be aware:
“As a court made very clear in Pennsylvania this week, it is important to know the voting rules. The last thing you want when you exercise your right to vote is to have your vote not count.”
So, according to my predictions, the Democrats hold Arizona and Georgia, the Republicans hold Wisconsin but very narrowly lose Pennsylvania (an open seat that was Republican), and the Republicans gain Nevada.
This keeps the Senate at 50-50, with the two independent seats in caucus with the Democrats and the Vice-President with the tie-breaking vote.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and 24-7 Abogados. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.