DemDaily: Status of The Senate II

March 30, 2022 

The United States Senate currently stands at 50 Democrats (including two Independents who caucus with the Democrats) to 50 Republicans. As Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the President of the Senate and has the tiebreaking vote, Democrats officially have control of the Senate.

34 of the 100 US Senate seats are up for election in 2022, with Democrats defending 14 seats and the Republican Party defending 20, including five open seats.

An additional special election to fulfill the remaining term of Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe (R), who on February 25 announced his early retirement, will be held this November as well.

The Outlook: Now less than eight months from the November 8, 2022 midterm elections, there are nine US Senate seats that will decide control of the upper chamber, with five of those currently considered a "Toss Up" in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

See yesterday's DemDaily: The Status of The Senate I: Arizona and Georgia

The Toss Ups

2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 50.06% v.Trump 47.67%
Filing Deadline: March 18, 2022
Primary: June 14, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

First-term Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who defeated Republican Congressman Joe Heck 47% to 45% in 2016 to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), is facing a tough reelection battle.

Cortez Masto, who is the first-ever Latina elected to the United States Senate and who served as Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2020 cycle, faces minor primary opposition.

In the battleground state that Biden won by just 2.4%, Cortez Masto's major Republican challenger is Adam Laxalt, who succeeded her as Attorney General in 2016 and was the 2018 GOP nominee for governor. Laxalt, who lost the 2018 governor's race by 4% to Democrat Steve Sisolak, is the son of former US Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and the grandson of former Nevada Governor and US Senator Paul Laxalt (R).

Laxalt, who also co-chaired former President Donald Trump's 2020 presidential reelection campaign in Nevada, is the overwhelming favorite among seven other GOP contenders.

Cortez Masto entered 2022 with more than four times as much money on hand as the entire GOP field trying to unseat her, with a total of $17.4 million and $10.46 million cash on hand.

By comparison, Laxalt, who entered the race in August, had raised over $2.7 million with $1.69 million cash on hand. Laxalt's closest competitor, US Army veteran Sam Brown, who trailed Laxalt by over 35 points in recent primary polling, had raised just over $2 million and had $732,471 cash on hand. Brown has the backing of Nevada Republic Party Finance Chairman and Ahern Rentals CEO Don Ahern.

The latest general election poll, conducted March 21-24, 2022 of registered voters by Blueprint Polling (D), showed Cortez Masto trailing Laxalt, 40% to 47%, with 13% undecided. The Margin of Error (MOE) was ± 3.8%.

2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 50% v. Trump 48.8%
Filing Deadline: March 8, 2021
Primary: May 17, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

In one of the country's most politically divided states, which Biden won by 1.26%, two-term Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking reelection.

Of the five Democrats vying for the nomination, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has maintained his frontrunner status in the field, garnering 28% in a February 21-27, 2022 Franklin & Marshall College poll of likely voters. Congressman Conor Lamb (D-17) garnered 15%, followed by State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta with 2%, and other candidates 7% (MOE: ± 9.9%). With 50% undecided in the poll, however, there is still room for movement.

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh and State Senator Sharif Street have withdrawn from the race, while Pennsylvania Hospital Chief of Emergency Service Kevin Baumlin and Jenkintown Borough Council member Alexandria Khalil are still primary contenders.

Fetterman also leads substantially on the fundraising front, having raised close to $12 million as of the end of 2021 with $5.32 million cash on hand. Lamb had raised just under $4 million, with $3 million cash on hand and Kenyatta $1.53 million with $285,000 cash on hand.

Despite Fetterman's frontrunner status, the self-proclaimed progressive has few endorsements compared to the more moderate Lamb, who has also amassed the lion's share of support from state legislators and local and state labor unions. Kenyatta's organizational support also far exceeds Fetterman's and includes the powerful AFSCME District Council #33 and nationally, SEIU and AFT.

The road to the Pennsylvania Republican nomination has been a rocky one, with several shakeups, including the November exit of Trump-endorsed candidate Sean Parnell following allegations of spousal and child abuse.

The subsequent entry of celebrity doctor and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz November 30, and former Bridgewater Associates CEO David McCormick in January, further disrupted the already crowded primary, with the two now vying for frontrunner status.

Other contenders include former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, 2018 Lieutenant Governor nominee Jeff Bartos, political commentator Kathy Barnette, and two other candidates.

A March 2-6, 2022 of likely voters conducted by Fox News showed McCormick leading with 24%, Oz at 15%, Barnette and Bartos at 9% each, and Sands at 6%, with 31% undecided (MOE: ± 3%).

In the fundraising contest, Oz led with $5.87 million in the last quarter of 2021, with $5.21 million of that self-financed. Similarly, $3.6 million of the $4.2 million Sands raised was self-financed, and Bartos loaned his campaign $1.26 million of the $3.3 million he raised by end of last year.

Numbers for McCormick will not be known until the 2022 first-quarter report is filed in mid-April, but as the former CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, he is expected to invest heavily in his own candidacy. His campaign has reportedly already purchased $6.5 million in airtime.

2020 Presidential Vote: Biden 49.4%, Trump 48.8%
Filing Deadline: June 1, 2021
Primary: August 9, 2022
Rating: Toss Up

Senator Ron Johnson, among the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents, is the only Republican Senator facing reelection this year in a state that supported Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.

The race may be Democrat's best chance to flip a Senate seat, one that Johnson has held since he unseated Democratic Senator Russ Feingold in the 2010 midterm elections. A staunch Trump ally, Johnson was reelected in 2016 in a rematch with Feingold, winning 50.2% of the vote.

In a February 22-27, 2022 Marquette University poll, Johnson was viewed favorably by 33% of registered voters and unfavorably by 45%, with 21% saying they haven’t heard enough or don’t know.

In the Democratic primary, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes leads a field of eleven contenders that includes Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Outagamie County Executive and former Wisconsin State Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson.

In the February Marquette poll, Barnes was supported by 23% of Democratic primary voters, Lasry by 13%, Nelson by 5%, Godlewski by 3%, and other candidates 5%, with still 48% undecided.

A more recent March 16-23, 2002 conducted by Impact Research for the Barnes campaign showed Barnes at 38%, Lasry at 17%, Godlewski at 9% and Nelson at 8%. Three percent of respondents opted for another candidate and 26% of primary voters were undecided (MOE: ± 4.6%).

Lasry led in the 2021 fourth-quarter fundraising reporting, with $5.15 million, including a loan to his campaign of $2.35 million, closing $1.12 million cash on hand. Godlewski raised just under $3 million, which included $1.8 million of her own funds, and $1.3 million cash on hand. Barnes raised $2,351,976 and had $1.1 million cash on hand and Nelson $1.15 million with $484,000 cash on hand.

Johnson, who did not announce his reelection bid until this January, had raised just $4.6 million as of December 31, 2021, with $2.46 million cash on hand.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, Inside Elections, Sabato's Crystal Ball, Cook Political Report, FEC, Open Secrets, Las Vegas Review Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Business Insider

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