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Washington Watch: Republicans may win not just House but also Senate in midterm elections — here are 2022’s Senate races to watch

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Republicans are widely expected to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in this November’s midterm elections, with betting market PredictIt giving an 84% chance for that outcome.

The GOP is getting good odds for taking back the U.S. Senate, too, as PredictIt puts them at 72%.

Having his Democratic Party lose its grip on both chambers of Congress would be a considerable setback for President Joe Biden. Analysts have said that could mean that “all of the activity moves to regulation” by the executive branch, including “much more aggressive actions as it relates to bank KBE, -1.97% regulation, energy XLE, +0.40% regulation, healthcare XLV, -1.40% regulation, antitrust regulation.”

See: ‘Severe struggle’ over federal debt limit and moves to impeach Biden: What could happen in a Republican Congress

So which Senate races are worth tracking, as 34 seats in that 100-member chamber are up for grabs this year?

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has tagged nine races as competitive as of mid-January, with ratings such as “Toss up” or “Lean D.” Cook views the other 25 contests as not competitive, labeling them as either “Solidly D” or “Solidly R.”

The table below lays out the nine races that bear watching.

Key Senate races in 2022

State
Incumbent
Cook rating
1
Arizona
Sen. Mark Kelly (D)
Toss up
2
Florida
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
Lean R
3
Georgia
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D)
Toss up
4
Nevada
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
Toss up
5
New Hampshire
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)
Lean D
6
North Carolina
N/A, incumbent (R) retiring
Toss up
7
Ohio
N/A, incumbent (R) retiring
Lean R
8
Pennsylvania
N/A, incumbent (R) retiring
Toss up
9
Wisconsin
Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
Toss up

Source: Cook Political Report 

Democrats are the incumbents in four out of the nine competitive races, Republicans are the incumbents in two, and three don’t have incumbents running because they’ve opted to retire. The three retirees are GOP senators: North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Ohio’s Rob Portman and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey.

Primary elections will be held this year to determine the parties’ candidates.

Related: Bridgewater names new co-CEOs as McCormick steps down to run for Senate in Pennsylvania

Also: Celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Oz announces his run for Senate in Pennsylvania

Republicans just need a net gain of one seat to take control of the Senate, as they currently hold 50 seats. Democrats’ grip on the 50-50 chamber comes only because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tie-breaking votes.

“It is a sign of just how dire the situation is for Democrats that their best shot at keeping the Senate and limiting their losses in the House is the propensity of their opponents to nominate candidates who frighten suburbanites more than they do,” said Matthew Continetti, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, in a recent National Review op-ed

“Even so, the various weaknesses of the Republican Party may not be enough to save the Democrats.”

Democrats seized control of the Senate just one year ago, as their two candidates in Georgia defeated incumbent Republicans in the state’s runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021.

Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, and they currently hold 221 seats in that chamber vs. the GOP’s 212.

Now watch: Will the Biden administration’s unfinished agenda be enough to carry Democrats through the midterms?

This report was first published on Jan. 18, 2022.

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