What to watch for in the 2022 high-stakes midterm elections


WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of primaries, campaign events and fundraising requests, the midterm elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington and state capitals have finally arrived.

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of primaries, campaign events and fundraising requests, the midterm elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington and state capitals have finally arrived.

Republicans are predicting a massive red wave as anxious Democrats defend their narrow congressional majorities while struggling to overcome widespread concerns about the economy, crime and President Joe Biden’s leadership. Democrats are hoping for a backlash against the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade will save them.

The political environment has led to an unusually wide playing field as emboldened Republicans crowd into Democratic strongholds like New York, California, New Mexico and Washington state. Still, marquee races are being held in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which could help determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential contest.

Due to tight contests and an extended vote count, it could take days or weeks before the final result is known in several key races.

What we’re watching on Election Day:


All signs point to Republicans making significant gains on Tuesday. But whether it’s a red ripple or a tsunami remains to be seen.

Voters are extremely pessimistic about the country’s direction as inflation rises and political divisions explode. And history suggests voters will take their frustrations out on the ruling party.

The party that occupies the White House suffered significant losses in the first midterm election of almost any president in more than a century. The exceptions were in 1934 during the Great Depression; in 1998 during the attempted impeachment of Bill Clinton; and in 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Democrats initially hoped that the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the right to abortion would be enough to disrupt historic trends – or at least limit their losses – but party leaders have grown increasingly worried over the years. election day is approaching.

Agents of both parties expect the GOP to win a majority in the House, which would require a net gain of five seats. But with a big wave, the GOP could win 25 or more new seats. Sensing the opportunity, Republican groups poured millions of dollars into Democratic-leaning districts in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania in the final days of the election.

The fight for the majority in the Senate is more competitive. If the Republicans got even one seat, they would control the upper house of the Senate.

Democrats are fighting to protect vulnerable incumbents in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, while Republicans believe they are within reach in Colorado and Washington state. The GOP’s chances are somewhat hampered by flawed candidates in Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, which were boosted by former President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania represents the best opportunity for Democrats to flip a Republican-held seat, while GOP-held seats in North Carolina and Wisconsin also remain close.

At the same time, races for governor and statewide officers like the secretary of state loom larger than normal. The political environment gives Republicans confidence in gubernatorial races in blue states like Oregon and New Mexico.

If a massive red wave materializes, Democrats could struggle everywhere.


After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June, Republicans, including Trump, feared the decision would spark a backlash against GOP candidates who oppose abortion rights. And there have been signs in recent months that voters — suburban women and young voters, in particular — were energized and ready to vote Democrat on Nov. 8.

But more than four months after the decision, the effect of the abortion could fade.

Democratic candidates have shifted their message from abortion in recent weeks, at least somewhat, in favor of the economy, Social Security and Medicare. And some elected officials, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, have warned that Democrats have relied too heavily on abortion rights as a galvanizing issue.

The issue is particularly critical in the push for suburban women, a group that opposed Trump’s GOP in 2020 and appeared to backtrack after Trump’s departure when the GOP focused on pandemic restrictions and the ‘economy.


Democrats have sought to improve their outreach to Latinos after underperforming with the group in 2020. But there’s reason to believe Democrats could do even worse this year among the key electoral bloc, long a mainstay of the party coalition.

Both sides have been particularly focused on the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, made up of heavily Latino communities where the Biden administration’s struggle to resolve issues along the US-Mexico border is a central issue. . The GOP believes it will win up to three House seats in the former Democratic stronghold.

The GOP is also optimistic about its standing in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, home to 1.5 million voting-age Latinos and a Democratic stronghold for 20 years. The GOP made significant gains there in the last presidential election.

If the Democrats lost Miami-Dade, it would virtually eliminate their path to victory in statewide contests, including presidential elections.

The Latino vote will have consequences in other states, but none more so than Arizona and Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the nation’s first Latina senator, is locked in a close race.


Trump remains a dominant force within the Republican Party, but Tuesday’s contests will test his strength among the broader electorate.

He’s not on the ballot, of course, but dozens of Trump-endorsed candidates are. They include several controversial choices that beat out alternatives backed by the party establishment.

If Trump’s most prominent backers struggle, it would raise questions about his political strength as he eyes a 2024 presidential race that could kick off soon after the midterms.

In Pennsylvania, Trump loyalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, struggled in the polls against Democrat Josh Shapiro. Trump’s Senate pick, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is locked in a close race with Democrat John Fetterman. In Arizona, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate candidate Blake Masters, who both promoted Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election, are in a position to win.

Other Trump loyalists to watch: Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance, North Carolina Senate candidate Ted Budd, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon and New York gubernatorial hopeful Lee Zeldin.


In ways big and small, the 2022 midterms will help shape the 2024 elections.

A bad night for Democrats could undermine Biden’s case for a second term. And Trump would almost certainly seize on the broad Republican victories as proof of his political strength ahead of a potential third White House bid.

Advocates of good government are particularly concerned about the dozens of Holocaust deniers running for office in several presidential battlegrounds.

In Nevada, Republican Jim Marchant is running for Secretary of State, the state’s chief election officer. Marchant heads the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a collection of Trump loyalists who falsely say the 2020 election was plagued by voter fraud.

It’s the same in Arizona and Michigan, where fellow coalition members Mark Finchem and Kristina Karamo are running for secretary of state. And in Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, another vocal Holocaust denier, would have the power, if he wins, to appoint his own election chief.

Aside from the election administration, other statewide candidates could take advantage of a strong showing on Tuesday to position themselves for the 2024 ticket.

Lake, Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, is already seen as a potential Trump running mate. And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for office on Tuesday, is also considering a 2024 presidential bid whether Trump runs or not.


It’s possible – maybe even likely – that the outcome of several key contests will take days or even weeks to finalize.

The reasons are many.

In Georgia, a candidate must obtain at least 50% of the vote to win. Otherwise, the election will take place on December 6. Strategists on both sides believe the state Senate race, in particular, could do just that.

In other states, the vote counting process can be long and complicated, especially as mail-in voting becomes more popular.

Under Arizona law, for example, all ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, but officials have 20 days to finalize their count. In Nevada, counties have four days to count late ballots and give voters two additional days to repair ballots that arrive in envelopes with errors or missing information.

In some swing states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, officials aren’t allowed to start validating mail-in ballots until after Election Day. Nineteen states provide a grace period for receiving mail-in ballots as long as they were mailed before Election Day. These California ballots can be received up to seven days later.

It might take a while.


Read more about the issues and factors at play midterm at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

Steve Peoples, The Associated Press


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