Research
5
min read

2022 United States Midterm Election Preview

Published on
October 31, 2022
Author
William Wright
for GovConnex Research
Before GovConnex Research is published here, it's sent exclusively to GovConnex Platform subscribers.

What you need to know

  • The US midterm elections will take place on Tuesday 8 November.
  • Results should be known by the afternoon of Wednesday 9 November (AEDT).
  • All 435 House of Representatives seats are up for election with the Republican Party expected to win back control of the chamber.
  • 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election.
  • The Senate race is too close to call and is largely expected to come down to three contests; Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada.
  • In Pennsylvania, TV Doctor Mehmet Oz is facing off against six-foot-eight tattooed Harvard graduate John Fetterman in a hotly contested and at times hostile race.
  • The Democratic Party currently holds control of a deadlocked Senate (with Vice-President Kamala Harris the tie breaking vote). The Republicans will like their chances of taking back the Senate with a wave of momentum coming their way, less than 10 days before the vote.
  • There will also be 36 gubernatorial elections, including potential 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis in Florida and a possible Republican governor in New York for the first time since 2008.
  • Traditionally the party that controls the White House does poorly in their first midterm election. Polls indicate that the 2022 election will be no different.
  • Democrats were enjoying a large poll boost following the June decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade (federal constitutional abortion protection), invigorating the Democratic base and swaying independents.
  • However, polls have now swung back significantly towards the Republicans as discontent towards President Biden’s administration and the rising cost of living increases.

State of Play

  • The two Senate independents, Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont) caucus and provide supply to the Democratic Party.
  • All 435 House of Representatives seats are up for election.
  • 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election.
  • According to CNN electoral analysts, 3 Senate races are classed as “toss ups” and 18 House races are classed as “toss ups”.
  • As it stands, Democrats would have to win 16 of the 18 House “toss up” races to retain control of the House, an unlikely prospect.
  • The Democrats and Republicans would need to win two of the three Senate toss ups respectively to win control of the Senate.

Key Battles

Senate (3 toss ups)

Pennsylvania

John Fetterman (D) vs. Mehmet Oz (R)

Many analysts predict that the winning party in this battle will win ultimate control of the Senate. 53 year old six-foot-eight tattooed Harvard graduate John Fetterman is pitted against 62 year old TV Doctor Mehmet Oz (Dr Oz).

Fetterman had a stroke in May of this year, severely hindering his auditory processing abilities. Fetterman now requires the help of a computer to process auditory information, a fact that has caused heavy conflict between the two candidates.

Key issues - Fetterman’s health, crime, fracking, abortion, Oz’s residency, and the economy.

Who wins? Polls have this contest as a dead heat, a poor debate performance last Tuesday by Fetterman has shifted the momentum towards Oz. However independent candidate Everett Stern, who was polling at 3% has dropped out and endorsed Fetterman, potentially providing a critical boost for the Democrats.

Georgia

Raphael Warnock (D) vs. Herschel Walker (R)

Former NFL superstar Herschel Walker faces incumbent senator and church pastor Raphael Warnock. The contest has gathered national attention as it was revealed that anti-abortion Walker had paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion. Walker’s son Christian has come out against his father. On the other side, allegations of domestic violence have been levelled at Warnock from his ex-wife.

Key issues - Abortion, Warnock’s character, Walker’s character, jobs.

Who wins? Polls are neck-and-neck. Walker along with many Republicans has seen a strong boost in the past week.

Nevada

Catherine Cortez Masto (D) vs. Adam Laxalt (R) 

Incumbent senator Cortez Masto faces lawyer and former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Nevada was surprisingly won by President Biden in 2020 by 2.7 points. Cortez Masto has faced difficulties establishing a popular personal brand since entering the Senate in 2017. Rent and gas costs have risen faster in Nevada than anywhere else in the US.

Key issues - Inflation, crime, climate change.

Who wins? The closest of all the Senate races, flip a coin.

House (18 toss ups)

California - 22nd congressional district

David Valadao (R) v. Rudy Salas (D)


Colorado - 8th congressional district

Barbara Kirkmeyer (R) v. Yadira Caraveo (D)


Iowa - 3rd congressional district

Zach Nunn (R) v. Cindy Axne (D)

Minnesota - 2nd congressional district

Tyler Kistner (R) v. Angie Craig (D)


Nebraska - 2nd congressional district

Don Bacon (R) v. Tony Vargas (D)


New Mexico - 2nd congressional district

Yvette Herrell (R) v. Gabriel Vasquez (D)


New York - 19th congressional district

Marc Molinaro (R) v. Josh Riley (D)


New York - 22nd congressional district

Brandon Williams (R) v. Francis Conole (D)


North Carolina - 13th congressional district

Bo Hines (R) v. Wiley Nickel (D)

Ohio - 1st congressional district

Steve Chabot (R) v. Greg Landsman (D)


Ohio - 13th congressional district

Madison Gilbert (R) v. Emilia Sykes (D)


Oregon - 5th congressional district

Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R) v. Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D)


Oregon - 6th congressional district

Mike Erickson (R) v. Andrea Salinas (D)


Pennsylvania - 7th congressional district

Lisa Scheller (R) v. Susan Wild (D)


Pennsylvania - 8th congressional district

Jim Bognet (R) v. Matt Cartwright (D)


Pennsylvania - 17th congressional district

Jeremy Shaffer(R) v. Chris Deluzio (D)


Virginia - 2nd congressional district

Jen Kiggans (R) v. Elaine Luria (D)


Washington - 8th congressional district

Matt Larkin (R) v. Kim Schrier (D)

Gubernatorial

Florida

Incumbent governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis (R) is up against former Florida congressman Charlie Crist (D). DeSantis should win easily as Florida continues to move away from its traditional status as a swing state.

New York

Perhaps the most fascinating battle of the entire election. Republican Lee Zeldin (R) is a live chance of unseating Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul (D), this would be the first time a Republican has held the New York governorship since 2008. Rising crime in New York City has been the key issue of the campaign. Hochul assumed office in 2021 after governor Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign following allegations of sexual harrassment.

Georgia

Incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp (R) is once again facing popular Democrat Stacey Abrams (D). Kemp is leading the polls by an average of 6.2%. Abrams is seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. If elected in Georgia, she would be the first female African American governor of any state. Abrams was instrumental in increasing African American voter participation in Georgia during the 2020 election, a state that was critical to the final result.

Kansas

Incumbent Democratic governor Laura Kelly (D) is up against Kansas state attorney general Derek Schmidt (R) , Kelly is renowned for her bipartisanship and desire to distance herself from the rest of the Democratic Party in a state that President Trump won by 15 points.

Wisconsin

Incumbent Democratic governor Tony Evers (D) faces construction business owner Tim Michels (R) , Wisconsin is likely to be a swing state again in the 2024 presidential election. Michels has gained campaign support from Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R), who in 2021 flipped his state red.

Nevada

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) is looking to unseat incumbent governor Steve Sisolak (D). Lombardo is relying heavily on criticising the state's curriculum particularly when it comes to issues of race. This strategy was successful for Glenn Youngkin (R) in Virginia.

Oregon

Former Oregon house minority leader Christine Drazan (R) has a strong chance of turning the governor seat red for the first time in 40 years. Drazan faces Tina Kotek (D) who looks to take over from unpopular incumbent Kate Brown (D). Former Democrat Betsy Johnson is running as an independent, taking Democratic votes away from Kotek.

Big Issues

Abortion
  • Roe v. Wade (constitutional federal protection of abortion rights) was overtuned by the US Supreme Court on 24 June 2022, leading to a big boost for Democrats as protecting Roe became the key message of their midterm campaign.
  • According to NPR, 35% of Democrats and 22% of independents see abortion as the most important issue leading into the midterms.

Crime
  • Republicans have focused their message on rising crime in the last few weeks. This has led to large polling boosts in the New York gubernatorial and the Pennsylvania senate races.
  • Gallup found that 53% of Americans worry about crime a “great deal” and 54% trust Republicans to handle it more than Democrats (39%).

Cost of Living
  • Inflation is currently running at a 40-year high (8.2%), with many placing the blame on Democratic President Biden despite larger global factors.
  • According to NPR, 40% of Democrats and 37% of independents see inflation as the most important issue leading into the midterms, making it the overall most important issue in this election.

Immigration
  • Immigration and issues on the Southern border continue to be of concern to voters.
  • According to Reuters/Ipsos 40% of voters think Republicans are best suited to solving immigration issues compared to 32% who chose the Democrats. According to NPR, 22% of Republicans see immigration as the most important issue in this midterm election (2nd most important issue) compared to 1% of Democrats.

Former President Trump
  • According to NPR, 22% of Democrats see the January 6th committee hearings as the most important issue leading into the midterms, making it the second most important issue for Democrats.

Polls

Polling from FiveThirtyEight provides an updating average, accounting for each poll’s quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean.

Senate

Georgia - +1.7

Pennsylvania - +1.9

Nevada - +0.4

Ohio - +1.4

North Carolina - +2.6

Wisconsin - +3.4

Note: the top three contests have tightened significantly with the most recent polls showing the Republican candidates ahead.

House

Generic Ballot (polls the party people plan on voting for and not candidate)

Republican +0.6%

Gubernatorial

Florida - +10

New York - +7.3

Georgia - +6.7

Oregon - Even

Wisconsin - +0.4

Nevada - +0.9

Oklahoma - +1

Arizona - +2.8

Minnesota - +8.1

Kansas - +2

Polling averages valid as of 31 October 2022

Odds

Senate

Republican Majority - $1.45

Democrat Majority - $8.50

No Majority (50-50) - $3.10

House

Republican - $1.04

Democrat - $8.50

2024 Presidential Race

Republican - $1.67

Democrat - $2.25

Donald J Trump - $4.33

Joe Biden - $5

Kamala Harris - $13

Ron DeSantis - $4.50

Stacey Abrams - $81

Pete Buttigeg - $26

Gavin Newsom - $15

Odds valid as of 31 October 2022.

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