Democratic control of Congress will be on the line next year as Republicans look to claw their way back into power after a disappointing 2020 election that cost them the White House and their Senate majority.
But despite the conventional wisdom that the party of a new president tends to lose ground in the midterms, Senate Democrats are staring down several offensive opportunities in 2022 as they look to expand their ultra-narrow majority in the upper chamber.
Still, the GOP has pickup opportunities of its own, especially in states that Democrats only managed to win recently.
Here are the nine Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022:
Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyWatch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: ‘I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying’ MORE’s (R-Pa.) coming retirement combined with President BidenJoe BidenPutin backs up Belarus’s Lukashenko amid international pressure Biden administration to reimpose sanctions on Belarus over diverted flight Senate passes resolution urging probe into COVID-19 origins MORE’s narrow win here in 2020 have given Democrats what they see as one of their best opportunities to flip a Senate seat that has been held by Republicans for 50 of the past 52 years.
Of course, flipping Toomey’s seat won’t be easy. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpNY, NJ rail project gets key federal approval Senate meltdown reveals deepening partisan divide DHS formally bans family separations for illicit border crossings MORE carried Pennsylvania in 2016 by less than 1 point, and many Republicans believe that his brand of conservative populism can propel them to victory once again in 2022. A number of GOP candidates are already vying for the mantle of Trump acolyte, and several more are still considering bids.
The Democratic primary field is also crowded, attracting candidates like Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a surrogate for Biden during the 2020 campaign. More candidates could soon follow, including Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who is said to be considering a Senate bid.
Like Toomey, Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTop Senate Republican says ‘structural reforms’ needed at CDC for next health threat North Carolina senators tell governor to turn down federal unemployment benefits GOP gambles with Pelosi in opposing Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-N.C.) is on his way out of the Senate, creating a wide-open race to replace him in a perennial battleground state.
Trump carried North Carolina in both 2016 and 2020. And Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNorth Carolina senators tell governor to turn down federal unemployment benefits GOP gambles with Pelosi in opposing Jan. 6 commission Senators struggle to save Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-N.C.) won reelection last year, despite an aggressive effort by Democrats to unseat him. But with Burr’s retirement and Trump no longer on the ballot, Democrats have an opportunity to win back one of North Carolina’s Senate seats.
A lot will depend on who emerges from the primaries. The Republican field has also drawn five candidates, including Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to country: ‘Turning peril into possibility’ Budd to run for Senate in NC GOP senator introduces bill to make DC part of Maryland MORE (R-N.C.), former Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to country: ‘Turning peril into possibility’ Budd to run for Senate in NC Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (R-N.C.) and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Looming over the race for the GOP nomination is Lara TrumpLara TrumpEric Trump buys .2M home near father’s golf club in Florida The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden to country: ‘Turning peril into possibility’ Budd to run for Senate in NC MORE, the daughter-in-law of former President Trump, who has said she is considering a Senate bid.
Democrats are also expected to face a crowded primary. The top contenders include state Sen. Jeff Jackson, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and former state Sen. Erica Smith, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Senate nomination in 2020.
A longtime swing state, Ohio has lurched to the right in recent years, voting twice for Trump and handing Democrats a spate of difficult losses in down-ballot contests.
But Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump, midterms fuel GOP’s effort to quash Jan. 6 commission ‘SECURE 2.0’ will modernize retirement security for the post-COVID American workforce Schumer and Collins appear to have heated exchange before Jan. 6 vote MORE’s (R-Ohio) announcement earlier this year that he won’t seek reelection laid the groundwork for a competitive Senate contest that Democrats believe they have a shot at winning.
Potentially working to Democrats’ advantage is the fact that only one candidate — Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanBiden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs Tim Ryan: GOP getting ‘twisted up in knots, trying to figure out how to spin’ Jan. 6 Tim Ryan gives incensed speech on House floor slamming GOP over Jan. 6 commission MORE (D-Ohio) — has jumped into the primary so far. Others are still considering whether to compete for the nomination, including Ohio state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.
Republicans, meanwhile, are scrambling for the support of Trump, believing that his endorsement will offer a one-way ticket to the nomination. The field so far includes former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons, all of whom have sought to tie themselves to Trump.
Georgia voters handed Democrats their current Senate majority in January when it elected Sens. Jon OssoffJon OssoffSabato’s Crystal Ball editor: Democrats could hold the Senate in midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control The Memo: In Democratic divide, two visions of Israel MORE and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockSabato’s Crystal Ball editor: Democrats could hold the Senate in midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Voting rights hit wall in Congress amid GOP overhauls MORE in a pair of runoffs. But Warnock is slated to appear on the ballot once again in 2022 to seek his first full term in office.
A longtime Republican stronghold, Georgia has become one of the nation’s fastest growing and most diverse battlegrounds. In 2022, Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the Peach State since former President Clinton in 1992.
But the GOP still remains a powerful force in the state, and the party sees Warnock as one of their top offensive targets in 2022.
The GOP primary field hasn’t shaped up yet, though a handful of well-known Republicans are already eyeing Warnock’s seat, including former Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerJudge agrees to unseal 2020 ballots in Georgia county for audit Rep. Malinowski traded as much as M in medical, tech stocks with stake in COVID-19 response The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire MORE (R-Ga.), who lost to Warnock in the January runoff, and former NFL player Herschel Walker, whom Trump has personally urged to challenge Warnock.
Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyArizona Republicans plot flat tax after voters raised taxes on the rich Republicans lose patience with Arizona election audit Trump is the Democratic secret weapon MORE’s (D-Ariz.) victory in 2020 gave Democrats control of both of Arizona’s Senate seats for the first time in nearly 70 years. But he’s slated to go up for reelection next year, and Republicans have put him near the top of their target list.
The Republican primary field is still taking shape, but the race could attract some of Trump’s most ardent allies. Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Uber – Infrastructure, Greene consume Washington Gosar is the Republican that Democrats want to avoid Of inmates and asylums: Today’s House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint MORE (R-Ariz.), two Trump acolytes who are among the most vocal defenders of the former president’s rigged election claims, have floated potential Senate runs.
State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also considered a likely contender for the GOP Senate nomination, but unlike Gosar and Biggs, he has rejected Trump’s claims of a stolen election, earning him the ire of the former president.
Complicating things for the GOP is the fact that Trump lost Arizona in 2020, making him the first Republican presidential contender to face defeat in the state since 1996. Nevertheless, the Arizona Republican Party is still largely aligned with Trump’s wing of the GOP.
The Senate race in Wisconsin is still taking shape, but Democrats are particularly eager to take out Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate meltdown reveals deepening partisan divide The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Senators back in session after late-night hold-up Senate reaches deal to get out of town after Jan. 6 commission vote MORE (R-Wis.), a key Trump ally and archvillain for the left.
Johnson hasn’t yet said whether he’ll seek another term in the Senate, though he previously vowed not to run for a third term after winning reelection in 2016. It’s not clear whether he’ll stick to that pledge, and Wisconsin Republicans say he can still make the case for remaining in Washington.
Johnson’s silence has complicated things for both parties. No other Republican has jumped into the race out of deference to Johnson, effectively freezing the GOP contest for the time being.
And while the Democratic field has already drawn several candidates, including state Treasurer Sarah Godliewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County executive Tom Nelson, Johnson’s indecision has left Democrats without a clear opponent.
Still, Democrats feel particularly empowered in Wisconsin after Biden carried the state in 2020 and reversed his party’s fortunes from 2016, when Trump’s victory there helped doom Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBernie Sanders demands king-size hotel beds, cool rooms, book says Biden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs GOP gambles with Pelosi in opposing Jan. 6 commission MORE’s presidential campaign.
Democrats are feeling good in New Hampshire heading into 2022 when Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanBiden budget includes 0M to help agencies recover from SolarWinds hack in proposed budget The case for improving America’s research and experimentation tax credit The ‘frills’ of Biden’s infrastructure plan are real needs MORE (D-N.H.) will face her first reelection bid. Biden carried the state in 2020 by more than 7 points, while Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenAir Force secretary nominee threads needle on future of F-35 program Overnight Defense: Israeli Security Cabinet votes for cease-fire | Senators urge expedited visas for Afghans who helped US troops | Pentagon pushes for more military vaccinations Senators press Defense officials on expediting visas for Afghans who helped US troops MORE (D-N.H.) won reelection by more than 15 points.
But Republicans believe they have an opportunity to oust Hassan next year, especially if their top choice for the nomination, Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuSununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson delay prompts criticism of CDC panel | Pfizer CEO says third dose of COVID-19 vaccine ‘likely’ needed within one year | CDC finds less than 1 percent of fully vaccinated people got COVID-19 NH governor will let mask mandate expire on Friday MORE, jumps into the race.
So far, only one Republican has announced his candidacy for the New Hampshire Senate seat, Don Balduc, a retired Army brigadier general who unsuccessfully sought the GOP Senate nomination last year. No other Republican has emerged yet as the party awaits Sununu’s decision.
Sununu is also weighing whether to run for a fourth term in the governor’s mansion or step back from elected office altogether and return to the private sector. He’s not expected to make a decision before the end of the state legislative session next month.
Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe case for improving America’s research and experimentation tax credit Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction MORE (D-Nev.) won’t be easy for Republicans to take down. But they argue that, with the right candidate, her seat could be up for grabs.
So far, no Republican has announced a challenge to Cortez Masto. But the GOP is hoping to recruit former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who lost a bid for governor in 2018, into the race, believing that he offers Republicans their best shot of ousting Nevada’s senior senator.
While Democrats have racked up a string of statewide victories in recent years, even they caution that Nevada remains competitive. Biden carried the state in November by only about 2 points, the same margin that both Clinton and Cortez Masto won Nevada by in 2016.
Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHillicon Valley: Facebook to resume some political donations | Microsoft says Russian hackers utilized email system used by USAID to target other groups | Senate confirms Biden’s top scientist Khanna, Mace introduce bill to strengthen federal cyber workforce following major hacks Hillicon Valley: Parler app risks charges of selling out with Apple return | Justices hear First Amendment clash over cheerleader’s Snapchat | Google pressed to conduct racial equity audit MORE (D-Nev.) defeated former Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) there in 2018 by a 5-point margin, but that victory came as part of a Democratic wave in the first midterms after Trump entered the White House.
Missouri has shifted decidedly to the right in recent years. But Democrats and even some Republicans say there’s a chance that retiring Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate Republicans warn Biden against using reconciliation for infrastructure Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Overnight Health Care: Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent effective in 12- to 17-year-olds | US achieves full vaccinations for half of adults | Trump on Wuhan lab: Now everyone agrees ‘I was right’ MORE’s (R-Mo.) seat could come into play next year, depending on how the GOP primary shakes out.
A handful of Republicans have already jumped into the race to replace Blunt, including Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens. But Greitens’s candidacy makes some Missouri Republicans nervous, given his controversial reputation.
Greitens resigned in 2018 in the face of mounting scandals that included accusations of campaign finance violations, an extramarital affair and blackmail. His decision to step down came as state legislators met to consider possible impeachment.
Some Republicans in Missouri and in Washington fear that if Greitens wins the nomination, it could open up an opportunity for Democrats in the general election, putting at risk a Senate seat that they believe should be a shoo-in for the GOP.
Other Republicans are considering jumping into the race, including several members of the state’s House delegation.