The most important midterm elections to watch ahead of Election Day

Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis  (Getty/EPA)
Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis (Getty/EPA)

Election Day is less than a month away and the 2022 midterm races are entering their final sprint.

Republicans are still hope that Americans’ frustration with inflation and the economy, as well as rising crime, will obfuscate their concerns about the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade.

Conversely, Democrats hope to make abortion a centrepiece of the election, but also hope to point “MAGA Republicans” as threats to democracy and highlight the January 6 insurrection.

Here are the most important elections to watch this cycle.

Nevada Senate

Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in Nevada since 2012. President Joe Biden won the state by about the same margin Hillary Clinton did but his approval rating remains low in the state at 44 per cent, according to a CBS News/YouGov from this month.

That same poll showed former attorney general Adam Laxalt beating Senator Catherine Cortez Masto by one point, 49 to 48 per cent.

At the same time, polls have historically missed the mark in Nevada. The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the state’s hospitality industry when plenty of Latinos are becoming more disillusioned with the Democratic Party. All of this makes Nevada the most likely Senate seat to flip.

Ms Cortez Masto, the first and so far only Latina senator, is seeking reelection against Mr Laxalt, the former attorney general and grandson of the former senator and governor Paul Laxalt. Former president Donald Trump traveled to Nevada this month to shore up support for his preferred candidate. Ms Cortez Masto for her part has criticised Mr Laxalt for promoting the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Senate

The race to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey has easily become the ugliest and most intensely personal race of the 2022 midterm cycle.

Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman’s lead against celebrity physician Mehmet Oz has eroded, thanks to a barrage of ads painting the Democrat as soft on crime. A Suffolk University/USA Today Network poll showed Mr Fetterman leads Dr Oz 46.4 to 40 per cent. A big factor has been that Mr Fetterman’s unfavourability rating rose 17 points combined with Dr Oz’s support among Republicans consolidating. Mr Fetterman, for his part, has jumped on a story from the feminist website Jezebel that reviewed research conducted Dr Oz’s team at Columbia University and found that it potentially killed more than 300 dogs. The two will square off in a debate on 25 October.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Georgia Senate

The Georgia Senate race entered centre-stage last week when The Daily Beast reported that Republican nominee Herschel Walker reportedly paid for a woman’s abortion despite his vocal opposition to it on the campaign trail. The New York Times later corroborated the story and reported that Mr Walker pressured the same woman to have another abortion, which she refused. The Independent has reached out to the Walker campaign.

None of the bad press has deterred Republicans from supporting Mr Walker as he challenges Senator Raphael Warnock. For his part, Mr Warnock has refrained from directly criticising Mr Walker on the accusation for abortion, but a poll showed that support for Mr Walker dropped. The two squared off in only one debate this month, wherein Mr Walker accused Mr Warnock of being a rubber stamp for Mr Biden’s agenda. Meanwhile, Mr Warnock criticised Mr Walker, a former University of Georgia running back, of pretending to be a police officer, which led to Mr Walker flashing an honorary badge he received.

Arizona governor

Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running neck-and-neck against Republican nominee and former news anchor Kari Lake. Ms Lake has robustly parroted Mr Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen, while Ms Hobbs became a target of threats as she oversaw the election.

In addition, Ms Lake has called for the election results in Arizona to be decertified and said she would have not certified Mr Biden’s win in the state. A CBS News/YouGov survey released Sunday showed the two are polling at 49 per cent each. But Ms Hobbs has refused to debate Ms Lake, telling Face the Nation that she refuses to “I have no desire to be a part of the spectacle that she’s looking to create because that doesn’t do any service to the voters.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arizona Senate

Arizona’s Senate race is far less swingy, though still contested. Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and Republican opponent Blake Masters squared off last week during a debate. The same CBS News/YouGov poll showed Mr Kelly leads Mr Masters 51 to 48 per cent. In recent months, Mr Masters has attempted to back-pedal his previous hardline position on abortion, even scrubbing his website.

Mr Kelly hit Mr Masters in their debate for also erasing parts of his website about the “big lie.” Mr Masters, for his part, has tried to tie Mr Kelly to Mr Biden, who, despite winning the state in 2020, is unpopular.

Mr Kelly has released an ad saying he supports closing gaps in the US-Mexico Border, saying he stands “up to the left when they want to defund the police, and I stand up to the right when they want a national abortion ban,” before adding, “when Joe Biden gets it wrong, I call him out.”

Florida and Texas governor

Republican incumbent Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas caused a nationwide stir as they sent immigrants and refugees to Democratic areas of the country as a means to criticise the Biden administration’s policies regarding the US-Mexico border. But despite criticism from Democrats, both men are in a strong position to win re-election. A strong performance by Mr DeSantis, who has become a right-wing hero after he kept the state mostly open during the Covid-19 pandemic, could position him well to run for president in a 2024 Republican primary.

While Democrat Beto O’Rouke repeatedly criticised Mr Abbott for his stances on guns and abortion in their debate and on the campaign trail, a Quinnipiac poll showed that Mr Abbott leads Mr O’Rourke by seven points in the poll and most voters rank the economy as the biggest issue followed by the Texas-Mexico border. Meanwhile, a Siena College poll shows Mr DeSantis beating former governor and congressman Charlie Crist 49 per cent to 41 per cent.

Wisconsin Senate

Democrats’ hopes to beat Republican Senator Ron Johnson seem to be fading. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes squared off in two debates this month Mr Barnes tried to paint Mr Johnson as an extremist for minimising the January 6 riot and trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, as well as his position on abortion. In August, Mr Barnes’s competitors in the Democratic primary dropped out and endorsed him.

But since then, Republicans have hammered him by saying he supports defunding the police, and CNN reported there is evidence he has supported at least moving police funding toward other areas. Marquette University Law School’s most recent poll showed that Mr Johnson’s fortunes improved. with 52 per cent supporting him and 46 per cent supporting Mr Barnes.

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