Democracy in Action « 2022 Midterm Elections
U.S. Faces Major Challenges at Home and Abroad
Much at Stake in Federal, State and Local Elections
(ema revised June 26, 2022)
American democracy faces severe challenges, internal and external, as we look to the November 8, 2022 elections.  The country is divided into two camps that seem to find little to agree on.  Republicans remain the party of former President Donald Trump (+) who has built a formidable operation heading into the midterms (+) even as he continues to claim that the 2020 election was stolen.  Democrats have advocated for a costly and wide-ranging agenda
(1, 2), despite narrow majorities in Congress. 

Inflation is the major concern for many Americans; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on June 10 that, "The all items index increased 8.6 percent for the 12 months ending May, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. (>)."  The U.S. Supreme Court's June 24 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has put abortion front and center in the election-year debate (1, 2).  While the COVID pandemic appears to be winding down after two difficult years during which vaccine and mask mandates and other restrictions have been hotly contested, there are still thousands of new cases reported each day (>)Other polarizing issues remain, including gun violence (>), immigration (>) and climate change.  Homelessness (>) and affordable housing are obvious problems in many communities.  The national debt exceeds $30 trillion (1, 2).  The events of January 6, 2021 are again in the news, as the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol began public hearings on June 9, 2022 (1, 2).

While Americans have been preoccupied with internal matters, the threats from abroad have deepened.  The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was poorly handled.
The apparent growing partnership between the authoritarian regimes of Russia and China is concerning (1, 2).  Putin's war on Ukraine (>), launched on Feb. 24, has cast a dark shadow, causing senseless suffering and destruction, forcing millions to flee, spreading ripples through the world economy just as it seemed to be emerging from the pandemic, and raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Democrats are in for a tough cycle.  
Inflation is hitting everyone in their pocketbooks every day.  Democrats have been able to accomplish some of their objectives, such as passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15, 2021 but other proposals including their signature Build Back Better agenda have been stymied (>) Republicans have not put forth much of an agenda, but have been unrelenting in their criticisms of the "radical left," "socialism" and "wokeism."  Biden's low approval ratings (>) could affect races around the country at all levels.  Many pundits predict Republicans will win the majority in the U.S. House and will likely reclaim the majority in the Senate as well.  Comparisons have drawn to the 2010 cycle, following Obama's election in 2008 when Republicans achieved gains at all levels, and even to 1994, when Republicans gained 54 seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate.  As in the 2012 cycle, redistricting will affect U.S. House and state legislative races (>). 

As Trump rakes in money and makes endorsements in races around the country
(>), his political future and the future of Trumpism will be determined by the outcome of the midterms.  Other potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates are making endorsements and working to lay the groundwork for possible White House runs, but Trump is the kingpin.  On the Democratic side, Biden controls the national party apparatus, but he has been plagued by low polling numbers (1, 2).

The 2022 cycle could well be the most expensive midterms ever.  In February, OpenSecrets reported that, "National political party committees and super PACs affiliated with party leadership started 2022 with a record $517 million in the bank, a substantial increase from the same time in previous election cycles."  Also increasing, slowly, over recent cycles are the number of women (>) and minority candidates.  Voters will decide not only high profile federal and statewide races, but local races as well as initiatives and referenda.

Given the many issues facing the country, it is imperative that citizens take time to learn about the issues and the candidates.  Which candidates rely on hot button issues and rhetoric, name ID or big money, and which are advancing serious and workable proposals to address some of the many issues?  Primaries are very important.  In non-competitive seats, winning the primary virtually guarantees winning the general election; in competitive seats a quality candidate who emerges from the primary can make for a close race in the general election.

U.S. Senate
The current balance is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two Independents.  Thirty-five seats are at stake, 14 held by Democrats and 21 by Republicans.  There are six open seats.

Democrats have the narrowest of majorities in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.  Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) have held up Democrats' more ambitious plans, but are not up for re-election this cycle.  The Cook Political Report lists 25 of the 34 seats as solid for one party or the other.  Of six seats it lists as toss-ups, three are held by Democrats (AZ, GA, and NV) and three by Republicans (NC, PA and WI).  Republicans are defending five open seats in 2022 compared to just one for the Democrats.  Former President Donald Trump has made more than a dozen endorsements in Senate races as he seeks to solidify his hold on the party (1, 2); in particular his endorsements of Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania (Apr. 9) and J.D. Vance in Ohio (Apr. 15) (+).
  ||  Cook Political Report  |  Sabato's Crystal Ball

U.S. House
The current balance is 221 Democrats, 209 Republicans and five vacancies (>).  All 435 seats are at stake.

As noted above, reapportionment and redistricting is a significant factor, shuffling the deck in U.S. House races to varying degrees depending on the district (+).  Additionally, as of Feb. 28, 2022, 45 Members have announced they are retiring or running for other office–31 Democrats and 14 Republicans (>).  One constant with other recent cycles is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will again be a target for Republicans.
  ||  Cook Political Report  |  Sabato's Crystal Ball


The current balance is 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats.  Thirty-six seats are at stake, 16 held by Democrats and 20 by Republicans.  There are eight open seats.

The Cook Political Report lists seven seats as toss-ups, five held by Democrats (KS, MI, NV, PA, WI and AZ, GA).  A Jan. 1 article in The Hill named Democrats as six of the seven most vulnerable incumbents (KS, ME, MI, NV, NM, WI and GA).  Looking at open seats Democrats are certainly eyeing Maryland and Massachusetts, where popular Republican governors are not seeking re-election.  Former President Trump has endorsed in a dozen races; eight of these candidates are challengers or running in open seats (>).  Incumbent governors are rarely defeated in primaries, but a number of Republican governors do face multiple challengers; there are quite a few candidates who argue the incumbents have not been sufficiently supportive of America First (Trump) policies.  In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has been targeted by Trump, and in Idaho, Gov. Brad Little (R) faces a challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, also endorsed by Trump.  On the Democratic side, few incumbents appear to face significant primary challenges.  Top issues in many governors races include the economy, education and handling of the COVID pandemic.  More than half of the 2022 races are likely to be non-competitive; the Cook Political Report lists 20 seats as solidly Democratic or Republican.  Looking at comparable recent cycles, it is likely that from five to eight seats may change party control (>).
DGA   |   RGA  ||  Cook Political Report  |  Sabato's Crystal Ball 

State Legislatures
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of 98 legislative chambers (does not include NE which is unicameral), Republicans control 61 chambers and Democrats 37 chambers. 

In most states one party controls both chambers—Republicans in 30 states, Democrats in 17 states, and in just two states is the legislature divided.  Of 7,383 total legislators, 3,980 are Republican, 3,266 Democrat and 137 other, Independent or vacant.

Ballot Measures
NCSL  |  Initiative and Referendum Institute

Local Elections
Elections for city and county offices are happening around the country throughout the year.  These are frequently nonpartisan.
U.S. Conference of Mayors
FOCUS: Mayor of Los Angeles

Memo Corner

Groups from across the political spectrum put out memos and reports describing the political terrain and the state of the electorate.  These can provide useful insights but may be colored by wishful thinking:
May 31, 2022 - NDRC [PDF]
May 16, 2022 - Democracy Corps [PDF]
May 5, 2022 - DLCC [PDF]
Feb. 2022 - Celinda Lake and Mike Lux [PDF]
Jan. 31, 2022 - Joe Trippi/The Lincoln Project
Dec. 15, 2021 - Doug Sosnik/The Brunswick Group [PDF]
Nov. 15, 2021 - DCCC [PDF]
May 3, 2022 - NRSC (>)
Mar. 2, 2022 - Congressional Leadership Fund [PDF]
Jan. 27, 2022 - RSLC
Nov. 10, 2021 - NRSC [PDF]
Nov. 1, 2021 - RGA [PDF]

Potential 2024 Republican Candidates
Former President Donald Trump

The Office of Donald J. Trump:
Save America JFC:  |
External:  C-SPAN  |  P2020  |  P2016

Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) 
U.S. Senate Office:  |  |  @SenTomCotton
Cotton for Senate:  |  |  t@TomCottonAR
External:  C-SPAN  |  Congress.Gov  |  Open Secrets  |  Ballotpedia

Former Gov. Chris Christie (NJ)
Chris Christie:  Christie 55 Solutions  |  |  @GovChristie  |  Republican Rescue 
Chris Christie for President, Inc. [2016]
External:  C-SPAN  |  P2016  |  Ballotpedia

Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)
U.S. Senate Office:  |  |  @SenTedCruz
Ted Cruz for Senate:  |  |  @TedCruz
ExternalC-SPAN  |  Congress.Gov  |  Open Secrets  |  P2016  |  Ballotpedia

Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL)
Governor's Office:  |  |  @GovRonDeSantis
Ron DeSantis for Governor:  |  |  @RonDeSantisFL
Friends of Ron DeSantis [PAC]:
External:  C-SPAN  |  Ballotpedia

Former Gov. Nikki Haley (SC)
Nikki Haley:  |  With All Due Respect [11/19]
Stand for America:  |  |  @StandForAmerica
External:  C-SPAN  |  Ballotpedia  ||  Draft Nikki Haley

Gov. Larry Hogan (MD)
Governor's Office:  |  |  @GovLarryHogan
An America United:
Larry Hogan:  |  |  @LarryHogan
Change Maryland, Inc:
External:  C-SPAN  |  Ballotpedia

Former Vice President Mike Pence
Mike Pence:  @Mike_Pence
Advancing American Freedom:  | @AmericanFreedom
External:  C-SPAN  |  Ballotpedia 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo:  |  @mikepompeo
Champion America Values PAC (CAVPAC):  |  |  @CAV_PAC
External:  C-SPAN  Ballotpedia

Sen. Tim Scott (SC)
U.S. Senate Office:  |  |  @SenatorTimScott
Tim Scott for Senate:  |  |  @votetimscott  TIM PAC (Tomorrow is Meaningful)
ExternalC-SPAN  |  Congress.Gov  |  Open Secrets  |  Ballotpedia

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