Looking to the Senate Elections

It's early, but here are some key numbers as they exist now.

While it is still on the early side, I was curious as to the current state of Senate contests. Most of the seats up for election are safe/likey or lean towards one of the two mainline parties (see Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball map here). While there are a couple of those leaning states that might be a surprise on election night, the focus is going to be on four toss-up states (AZ, GA, PA, and NV–all states that were of consequence in 2020, one might recall).

If all those who are likely or lean go as expected, the Democrats will need to win three of the four toss-ups to retain a 50-50 control of the Senate (since VP Harris would be the tie-breaker).

I would note that the FiveThirtyEight model currently gives the Democrats a 56%-44% edge (essentially a toss-up).

In AZ that model gives Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly a 65% probability to win.

In GA it gives challenger Republican Herschel Walker a 51% probability to win.

In NV it gives incumbent Democrat Cathrine Cortez Masto a 55% chance to win.

In PA it gives Democrat John Fetterman a 63% chance to win (it is an open seat).

Somewhat to my surprise, Senator Warnock is consistently polling slightly ahead of Walker in Georga according to RCP, averaging +4.4%. Further, Walker hasn’t led in any polls in their list since April. I would note, however, that incumbent Governor Kemp (R) is leading his challenger, Stacey Abrams (D) by 4.2%, showing a split in the state’s electorate at the moment.

RCP has the PA race has Fetterman at +8.7%

Arizona has not yet had its primary, so we don’t know who Kelly will face as yet.

Nevada has had so little polling that there is no average, but Masto was +3 in the most recent one which was from early July.

Again it is really too early to make even a tentative analysis, but here’s the info for anyone who might be interested.

FILED UNDER: 2022 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kylopod says:

    I believe Pennsylvania is the bellwether. If Fetterman wins, Dems will maintain control of the Senate. If he loses, they will lose control.

    Remember, the seat is currently held by a Republican, so a Fetterman win means the seat flips from R to D. That means that Republicans would then need to flip at least two Dem-held seats to capture the chamber. It’s not impossible, but I’d consider them underdogs in that scenario.

    On the other hand, if Oz wins, the seat would simply remain in Republican hands—but I think it would be a sign Dems are doing poorly elsewhere.

  2. Kylopod says:

    One point that tends to get overlooked in these discussions is that the battles for House and Senate control don’t exist in isolation from one another. The congressional districts that will decide House control are still in many cases parts of states where there are concurrent Senate races going on, and the voters in those districts affect those Senate races. And with ticket-splitting much more marginal than it used to be, a lot will depend on which voters turn out; I don’t expect there to be very many districts that vote for a different party for House and Senate. The implications of this can go both ways: the GOP’s strong position in terms of gaining House control will benefit them in the Senate races; on the other hand, Dems gaining strength in the race for Senate control will likely rebound negatively for the GOP in House races.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Fetterman’s ahead despite the fact that he suffered a stroke and can’t really do a lot of speechifying. Although, wait a minute, maybe he’s ahead because he can’t do any speechifying. Hmmm.

  4. Scott F. says:

    Focusing just on the 4 toss-up Senate contests shapes up as a real referendum on Trumpism, doesn’t it? The GOP is backing celebrity candidates in PA & GA and election fraud champions in NV & AZ (assuming Masters wins the primary next week). All 4 contests strike me as tests of how strong tribalism runs in the country club Republican voting bloc.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:


    Even without ticket splitting, we could end up with states where the Dems win the Senate seat but the GOP wins the house delegation because the senate race can’t be gerrymandered

  6. Argon says:

    @Michael Reynolds: One suspects Oz is also not campaigning or speechifying.

  7. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Even without ticket splitting, we could end up with states where the Dems win the Senate seat but the GOP wins the house delegation because the senate race can’t be gerrymandered

    I agree. It’s not uncommon to win a House delegation while losing the House popular vote in the state. It’s happened in Wisconsin several times over the past decade.

  8. Kylopod says:

    Also, in case anyone hasn’t seen this yet. I don’t know if it matters politically, but damn it’s entertaining.

  9. Ryan Lanham says:

    It is hilarious that 51 pct of Georgians propose electing a guy to office who can barely speak three sentences in a row without saying something absolutely stupid. I hope he flips on them after being told every vote how to vote by Mitch.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    This post is about this years elections, but my comment is more for the future. I don’t accept that the square states and some of the other states that are currently solidly Republican are inevitably Republican. Today’s Republican Party is essentially the Party of the Old South, not just geographically but in governance and attitude, and that means a party that is in everybody’s business, dictating to everyone what is acceptable on every subject, picking winners and losers, and constantly kissing up and kicking down. These just are not Midwestern and Mountain state values, at least not for the majority. Democrats don’t have to accept that these states inevitably elect Republicans, and the nation as a whole don’t have to accept that politicians in these states, even Republican politicians, will continue to vote in lockstep with the Republican party bosses.

  11. Gustopher says:

    In GA it gives challenger Republican Herschel Walker a 51% probability to win.

    I would feel better about things in general if the Republican plans weren’t to find the stupidest motherfucker around and try to win entirely on brand identity.

    I’m not sure whether they are trying to rub it in our noses out of spite, whether they have no interest in people who can think, whether they have no ideas… it’s all bad.

  12. Gustopher says:

    In PA it gives Democrat John Fetterman a 63% chance to win (it is an open seat).

    Fetterman is great. He’s from the progressive wing of the party, so you would think that he would be a poor fit for such a divided state, but he’s either amazingly genuine or does an amazing job at simulating genuineness. His success (so far) seems to disprove the “Democrats need to moderate on policy” arguments. Democrats need to run human beings. Or the bastard offspring of Gritty and Shrek.

    Vibes can be more important than policy.

    Or a Turkish citizen from New Jersey is a breathtakingly bad candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania.

    I’m hoping Democrats across the nation look to Fetterman and then run people who look like stereotypical low-level union officials who have taken up skateboarding.

    It would just be hysterical to see that becoming the new “expected” look rather than the traditional thin guy in a blue suit.

  13. wr says:

    @Argon: “One suspects Oz is also not campaigning or speechifying.”

    I can’t believe that. I’m sure he has a stirring set of rallies planned for Newark, Jersey City and Asbury Park…

  14. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Ryan Lanham: Warnock is pretty well funded, however. Every night, he has commercials on skewering Walker for some stupid and/or mendacious comment Herschel’s made. I suspect it will come down to turnout. I think if Stacey Abrams’ candidacy for governor brings a large black turnout, it will redound to Warnock’s benefit (if not to hers).

  15. BugManDan says:

    @Gustopher: I am pretty sure Walker would not have won even the race to the bottom that is the Republican primary if not for playing for the Dawgs.

    Was just on a college tour of UGA (with my oldest) and the alumni dad on the tour with us was complaining that we didn’t get a better viewing of the “most important place on campus” – Sanford Stadium (football for those who don’t care).

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: It will redound to Stacey’s benefit, whether it is enough or not remains to be seen. Either way, I suspect (and hope) she won’t give up.

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    I think Warnock wins and Abrams loses because enough independent/Republicans split their vote. Walker is genuinely embarrassing and I can see how a GOP voter is going to reconcile voting for a Democrat or not voting by voting for Kemp over the black woman.

    If Fetterman wins and is in okay health he is going to come out as a rock star for the Dems, and they need to go with it all the way, as he looks weird but he’s a human being vs JD Vance (who is also losing to Tim Ryan in the polls but will probably win) who a normal person would be creeped out by in 12 seconds and should not feel guilty about wanting to pour gasoline on and lighting a match. The GOP is producing creepy anti-social dorks, and there’s not a single person the GOP is running for an office larger than a house district who would be trusted by a person their age who is not equally as weird and anti-social and into like, I don’t know, trad Catholicism.

  18. Ken_L says:

    Walker is not only embarrassingly incoherent and confused, he’s been caught out in several important lies. If he gets elected, it will be one more piece of evidence that American democracy is in irreversible decline.