Senate Republicans will be on defense once again in the 2022 midterm elections when at least 20 GOP-held seats will be on the ballot.
Democrats, meanwhile, will have to defend at least 13 seats, mostly in politically friendly states like California, New York and Illinois.
The stakes of the 2022 midterm elections for each party will depend in no small part on how the two Senate runoffs in Georgia shake out this month. One GOP win would give Republicans a narrow majority when President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBidens honor frontline workers in NYE address: ‘We owe them, we owe them, we owe them’ Trump hotel in DC raises room rates for Biden inauguration Video shows long lines on last day of early voting in Georgia MORE takes office.
But a pair of Democratic victories in those runoffs would result in an evenly divided Senate in which Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisVideo shows long lines on last day of early voting in Georgia Georgia GOP candidate to quarantine days before runoff election What does the future of health policy reform look like for Georgians? MORE would cast the tie breaking vote – and leave 2022 as Republicans’ next chance to reclaim control of the upper chamber.
Here are seven Senate races to keep an eye on next cycle:
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPelosi presses McConnell to allow vote on bill for ,000 stimulus checks Stimulus check, veto override debates weigh on Georgia Senate runoffs Push for ,000 stimulus checks hits Senate buzzsaw MORE (R-Fla.) won by a comfortable 8-point margin the last time he was up for reelection in 2016. But since then, Democratic antipathy toward the second-term Florida senator has only deepened as he’s aligned himself closer and closer with President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hotel in DC raises room rates for Biden inauguration GOP lawmaker criticizes Trump, colleagues for ‘trying to discredit’ the election Video shows long lines on last day of early voting in Georgia MORE’s populist wing of the GOP.
Within days of the 2020 presidential election, a newly formed super PAC launched an ad calling on Florida voters to “Retire Rubio.” Democrats in the state have also begun to float potential 2022 challengers, including Reps. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings on Florida: ‘We’re excited about what we’re seeing’ but ‘taking absolutely nothing for granted’ Why it’s time for a majority female Cabinet Sunday shows preview: The final push to Election Day MORE (D-Fla.) and Stephanie Murray (D-Fla.).
At the same time, Rubio will appear on the ballot alongside Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisGetting the COVID-19 vaccine: Where should we stand in the waiting line? The Memo: Could Pence run and win in 2024? Ousted Florida health scientist asks state to return gear seized in raid MORE, a fellow Republican who has seen his approval rating tank over the past several months due in large part to his lax handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Rubio, a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who is seen as a potential 2024 White House hopeful, likely won’t prove easy to beat. He has a high profile both in Florida and nationally, and the GOP is expected to spend heavily to defend his seat.
What’s more, he’s heading into his reelection campaign after Trump pulled off back-to-back wins in Florida, a pair of victories that have prompted some political observers to wonder whether the nation’s largest swing state is drifting further to the right.
Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerVideo shows long lines on last day of early voting in Georgia Hawley jams GOP with Electoral College fight Georgia GOP candidate to quarantine days before runoff election MORE’s (R-Ga.) fate in the upper chamber has yet to be decided.
She’s facing a competitive runoff election on Jan. 5 against Democrat Raphael Warnock that will play a critical role in determining the balance of power in the Senate when President-elect Joe Biden takes office later this month.
But regardless of which candidate emerges victorious in that runoff, they’re likely to face a tough reelection bid in 2022, when they’ll have to run for their first full-term in the chamber.
Georgia has long been a political stronghold for Republicans. Democrats haven’t held the governor’s mansion since 2003, and they haven’t won a Senate race in the state since 2000.
But the state is now considered among the fastest-changing and most diverse electoral battlegrounds, with Biden becoming the first Democrat in nearly 30 years last month to carry the state in a presidential election.
Nevertheless, there’s still a strong conservative base in the state, suggesting that whomever runs for Senate in two years will likely find themselves in one of the most competitive – and expensive – races of the 2022 election cycle.
Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLara Trump leading Republicans in 2022 North Carolina Senate poll Rep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs MORE (R-N.C.) announced months before his last reelection bid in 2016 that it would be his last, meaning that neither party will have the power of incumbency in 2022.
Burr’s coming retirement sets up a scramble for a Senate seat in a crucial and rapidly changing battleground state after Democrat Cal Cunningham struck out in his bid to unseat Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTop GOP senators acknowledge Biden as president-elect after Electoral College vote MasterCard, Visa to stop allowing their cards to be used on Pornhub Hillicon Valley: 46 states and FTC file antitrust lawsuits against Facebook | YouTube to remove content that alleges widespread election fraud | European medical agency hit by cyberattack MORE (R-N.C.) last month.
State Sen. Erica Smith, who lost a primary to Cunningham earlier this year, has already indicated that she will run for Burr’s seat in 2022. Other potential Democratic contenders include state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who has said that he will make a decision in January, and state Attorney General Josh Stein.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerLara Trump leading Republicans in 2022 North Carolina Senate poll Rep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina North Carolina’s Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.) has already announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in North Carolina. But he’s not expected to be alone in the field. Former Gov. Pat McCrory has said that he is considering a Senate run in 2022, and President Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara TrumpLara TrumpLara Trump leading Republicans in 2022 North Carolina Senate poll Rep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina North Carolina’s Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE is also said to be a potential contender.
Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA’s bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.) announced in October that he would not seek reelection in 2022, leaving the field to replace him wide open.
Both the Republican and Democratic primary fields are expected to get crowded.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to challenge Toomey in 2016, is seen as a potential candidate for the seat. So are Reps. Connor Lamb (D-Pa.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), who both flipped GOP-held House seats in recent years.
Several Republicans have also been mentioned as potential successors to Toomey, including former Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe magnificent moderation of Susan Collins The Hill’s Morning Report – ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues Republicans who could serve in a Biden government MORE (R-Pa.) and Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018.
Democrats are riding high after Biden scored a narrow victory in the presidential election in Pennsylvania this year, recapturing a state that Trump carried by only 44,000 votes in 2016. But they’ll need to maintain strong support among suburban voters and drive up turnout in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to flip Toomey’s seat next cycle.
Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHawley jams GOP with Electoral College fight GOP senator says he’ll block consent for ,000 stimulus checks Push for ,000 stimulus checks hits Senate buzzsaw MORE (R-Wis.) hasn’t said yet whether he will run for a third term, but Democrats are already angling to take him out in 2022.
Few Republican senators have enraged Democrats as much as Johnson, who has used his position as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Committee to investigate Trump’s political enemies, including Biden’s son Hunter.
Johnson has already drawn a Democratic challenger in Tom Nelson, a county executive and former majority leader in the state General Assembly. Other Democrats mentioned as potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the first African American to hold the office.
During his last reelection bid in 2016, Johnson defeated his Democratic opponent Russ Feingold by just over 3 points, outperforming Trump, who beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump voters and progressives have a lot in common — and Biden can unite them The media didn’t change after 2016 — will they make the same mistake after 2020? Trump copied Obama’s failure in Yemen MORE in the state by less than 1 point that year.
But since then, Democrats have seen some positive trends. Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats urge Google to improve ad policies to combat election disinformation Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation Next Congress expected to have record diversity MORE (D-Wis.) won reelection in 2018 by an 11-point margin, the same year that Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin Air National Guard pilot missing after F-16 crash Wisconsin Supreme Court turns away Trump election lawsuit Wisconsin governor: Trump election lawsuit an ‘assault on democracy’ MORE (D) ousted former Gov. Scott Walker (R). And last month, Biden narrowly beat Trump in the state, reclaiming it for Democrats after a disappointing loss in 2016.
Still, Johnson has faced tough challenges in the past. National Republicans had largely written him off in 2016 before he eked out a win.
Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyArizona Senate Republicans to hold hearing on elections Why the polls weren’t as wrong as you think Gabby Giffords congratulates Mark Kelly with throwback photo of her own swearing-in MORE (D-Ariz.) will be on the ballot once again in 2022 after defeating former Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona Senate Republicans to hold hearing on elections Gabby Giffords congratulates Mark Kelly with throwback photo of her own swearing-in Mark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat MORE (R-Ariz.) in a hotly contested special election last month.
Kelly’s win was a major victory for Democrats, handing the party control of both of Arizona’s Senate seats for the first time in nearly 70 years. It was also the latest sign of the state’s shift from a Republican stronghold to a competitive battleground.
But Republicans are poised to go after Kelly in 2022 and are already eyeing potential recruits, most notably Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyArizona sets record for COVID-19 patients in ICU Electors cast ballots for Biden amid simmering national tensions Chris Christie calls Trump’s legal team’s legal theory an ‘absurdity’ MORE (R), who was reelected to his role in 2018 and won’t be able to run for another four years in office due to term limits. Kelly Ward, the chair of the Arizona GOP who ran unsuccessfully in a primary against McSally in 2018, has also been floated as a potential 2022 candidate.
Kelly likely won’t prove easy to get rid of. He outperformed Biden on the ballot in Arizona this year and was among the most prolific fundraisers of the 2020 election cycle, pulling in nearly $100 million for his campaign.
Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanInsurers lose multiyear lobbying fight over surprise medical bills Surprise medical bill prevention included in year-end legislative package Bipartisan senators urge surprise billing deal’s inclusion in year-end package MORE (D-N.H.) will face her first reelection bid in 2022 after narrowly beating former Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-N.H.) in 2016 by just a tenth of a percentage point. That same year, Clinton carried the Granite State by a scant 0.3 percentage points.
But after the 2020 elections, there are signs that the playing field has improved for Democrats at the federal level. Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenHow Congress dismissed women’s empowerment Hillicon Valley: Texas, other states bring antitrust lawsuit against Google | Krebs emphasizes security of the election as senators butt heads | Twitter cracks down on coronavirus vaccine misinformation Senators press federal agencies for more information on Russian cyberattack MORE (D-N.H.) won reelection by a nearly 16-point margin and Biden beat Trump there by more than 7 points, a significant improvement over Clinton’s 2016 margin of victory.
At the state level, however, New Hampshire presents more of a challenge for Democrats. The party lost control of both the state House and Senate this year, while Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuThe Memo: Toxic divide grew deeper in 2020 NH GOP governor cancels inauguration ceremony, citing concerns over armed anti-mask protests New Hampshire House Speaker dies of COVID-19 one week after swearing in MORE (R) coasted to a second term with more than 65 percent of the vote.
What’s more, Sununu is seen as a potential challenger to Hassan in 2022. Last month, Sununu’s campaign manager Paul Collins took aim at Hassan in a tweet that political observers in the state widely interpreted as a hint about the governor’s future political plans.
If Sununu ultimately decides to jump into the 2022 Senate race, Hassan could be in for a tough fight.