The 50-50 Senate: How Will 2022 Change That?

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Michael Vidal ’22

Midterms are next year. As President Biden’s approval rating decreases, it hurts Democrats who are running for reelection in swing states. In addition, Republicans’ chances of winning in their respective swing states are higher. North Carolina forecasts agree that Republicans will likely retain this seat vacated by Richard Burr. In Florida, Marco Rubio is up over his likely challengers in most polls. Since former President Trump won both of these states, it will be an uphill climb for Democrats to flip these states in their favor.

This may seem like bad news for Democrats, but they still have one year until Election Day in November, where passed legislation will likely be the primary issue when voters arrive at the polls. However, besides the American Rescue Plan, the Democratic majority has not passed many major bills. This is due to in-fighting between moderates and progressives in both Houses of Congress. In the Senate, the two most public holdouts are Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ). Since they are holding up a major reconciliation bill, the vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill has been postponed. 

If these bills are not passed, Democratic turnout may decrease, which can endangerendangering four incumbents: Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ)., All all of these states electedstates that elected Republicans to the Senate as recently as 2016. Since Krysten Sinema is a Democratic holdout in the Senate, some Republicans may use Sinema her to portray her colleague, Mark Kelly, as too liberal for the state. If popular Governor Chris Sununu runs, Hassan’s vulnerability spikes drastically. Warnock must have a high African American turnout and keep the Atlanta suburbs on his side. While Nevada has not voted Republican for President since 2004, it has narrowed up in recent years. To retain Senate control, Democrats will likely have to win all of these races. However, if no seats flip, there will still be little legislation passed.

So, how can Democrats hold the Senate? They have to retain their seats and expand their majority by two seats to nullify Manchin’s and Sinema’s votes. The two states they are targetinglook to? Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both of which Biden won. In Wisconsin, incumbent Ron Johnson has not determined whether he will run for reelection and whether he does or not;, he is a top Democratic target. The Democratic primary is already stacked, with several statewide officials already running. In Pennsylvania, incumbent Pat Toomey is retiring, making this already vulnerable seat for Republicans more vulnerable. Former President Trump will have major influence with his endorsements in primaries. While this may give candidates a primary win, they may be tied to Trump’s controversies, potentially decreasing their chances.

Finally, the first midterm for Presidents is usually not good, as their party tends to lose seats in both Houses of Congress. As of now, the Senate could go either way, but Republicans have history on their side. Can Democrats break tradition? Can they turn out their voters and sway independents to their side? We will see in 2022.