Midterm General Election Update

In Focus: Governor and State Legislative Elections | September.29.2022

Key Takeaways:

  • Midterm general elections will be held November 8, 2022.
  • At the state level, there are 36 gubernatorial races and 88 legislative chambers in 46 states holding elections in 2022.
  • The top election issue resonating with registered voters continues to be the economy and inflation. Reproductive rights are also considered a top issue this November with voters in five states considering ballot measures to limit or expand abortion rights since Dobbs.[1]
  • Based on political investments, there are roughly 15 battleground states where at least one party hopes to flip either one chamber or the entire legislature:
    • House Chamber targets: Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota,
    • Senate Chambers targets: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Nevada
      • Michigan’s House and Senate are considered the most vulnerable to flip from Republican to Democrat, while the Minnesota House and Alaska House are the most likely to flip from Democrat to Republican.
  • There are five gubernatorial races considered toss-ups: Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin.
    • Democrats are playing defense in four out of five of the Governor’s races considered toss-ups: Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
    • Republicans are hoping to retain control in a tight, open-seat race in Arizona.
    • Republicans are expected to lose the Governor’s races in Maryland and Massachusetts.

The post-Labor Day sprint can always generate political shifts between now and November so we will continue to monitor the environment and layer in fresh data to this report as Election Day approaches.

Introduction:

Since 1922, the party that controls the White House has lost state legislative seats in the first midterm election cycle. Historically, Democratic presidents lose an average of 388 state legislative seats, and Republican presidents lose an average of 345 state legislative seats. Paired with the current political environment, it is no surprise Democrats are facing an uphill battle in their pursuit to flip GOP legislative chambers with slim majorities, like Arizona and Michigan. Conversely, experts are dubious about the environment favoring the GOP enough to jeopardize Democratic control of legislative chambers in Colorado and Nevada.

Notably, the midterms will be the first election cycle since all 50 states finalized their new congressional and state maps triggered by the 2020 redistricting process. States such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado are considered more competitive since redistricting. In particular, Democrats feel bullish about flipping the Michigan House and Senate where Republicans currently maintain narrow majorities and have perpetually lost seats since 2014.  Republicans see an opportunity to flip party control in the Minnesota House, which would be the first since 2018, although Democrats believe the redistricting process has increased their chances of retaining control of the chamber.

Republicans currently have a trifecta—meaning control over the House, Senate, and Governor seat—in 23 states. Democrats have a trifecta in 14 states, and there are divided governments in 13 states. In November, Democrats are considered vulnerable to losing (i) their trifectas in four states (CO, ME, NV and OR), and (ii) three gubernatorial races (ME, NV, and OR ). Republicans, by contrast, are considered vulnerable to losing their trifecta in four states (AZ, GA, NH, and TX), with Arizona being the most vulnerable at the gubernatorial and legislative level.

Gubernatorial Races to Watch:

Governorships are currently split with Republicans in control of 28 seats and Democrats in control of 22 seats. There are 36 gubernatorial elections in 2022. Democrats are focused on defending five seats—Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Oregon—of which the first four are the most vulnerable, according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report.

Meanwhile, Arizona—where Republican Governor Doug Ducey cannot seek reelection due to term limits—is considered one of the most competitive races on the map. The election pits Trump-backed Republican Kari Lake against Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state Katie Hobbs. Republicans are unlikely to be successful in defending the open seats in Maryland and Massachusetts, which were previously held by two-term GOP incumbents, Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker, respectively. This will result in Democrats picking up trifectas in Maryland and Massachusetts.

A map of likely gubernatorial election outcomes is below, with Republicans expected to control 17 seats, Democrats to control 14 seats, and 5 seats considered toss-ups:

midterm general election updates map of the united states

Legislative Chambers to Watch:

In November, 88 of 99 legislative chambers will hold general elections. Of these, Republicans currently exercise majorities in 55 of the 88 chambers, or 63%. Uniquely, Alaska and Minnesota are the two states in this election cycle with split party control between their two legislative chambers – and they are projected to be the most vulnerable to flip to full GOP-controlled legislatures in November.

The political composition at the legislative level makes one dynamic abundantly clear: political polarization is at its strongest in state legislatures, and the current political winds do not suggest there will be material changes to party control in state legislatures, save for a few battleground states. Most of the projected changes will come from both parties chipping away at the opposing party’s majorities in perennial swing states experiencing competitive “top-of-the-ticket” races in November.

These dynamics will be most pronounced in the following chambers:

Republicans are doubling down to flip the Minnesota House, bolstered by their success in maintaining control of the highly targeted state senate during the 2020 elections. Republicans are also poised to flip the Alaska House and have made significant investments to win back seats, if not majorities, in the Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, and Nevada Senate. Democrat stronghold legislatures considered most vulnerable to losing seats – as opposed to flipping control – include Illinois, Oregon, and Washington.

On the flipside, Democrats feel most confident about the Michigan legislature, where Republicans in both chambers are barely holding onto shrinking majorities. Arizona’s House and Senate are also viewed as prime pickup opportunities for Democrats, where both chambers have a one-seat majority and are vulnerable to highly competitive statewide races for U.S. Senate, Governor and Attorney General. In addition, Democrats feel more confident than ever about retaining control of the Minnesota House, despite historical trends, as a result of redistricting. Republican chambers most vulnerable to losing seats include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New Hampshire.

A map depicting the likely and vulnerable Republican and Democratic state political trifectas and toss-up scenarios:

midterm general election updates

Ballot Measures:

More than 131 statewide ballot measures in 37 states have been certified for the November election. This year’s ballot initiatives are focused primarily on abortion rights, online sports betting, requirements for initiating a ballot initiative, and the repeal of language related to enslavement or servitude.

Abortion rights have taken on an increased significance and became a top focus in the midterms after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Five states—California, Kentucky, Montana, Vermont, and Michigan—will consider ballot measures that seek to either restrict or enshrine abortion rights in November, which is the most on record. Earlier this year, voters in Kansas rejected a measure that would have restricted access to an abortion in the state.

State Snapshot House Senate Governor
 Alabama Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
73-28
Republican supermajority
27-8
Republican likely to win
 Alaska Republicans are expected to maintain control of both chambers Republican majority
21-15-3
Republican supermajority
13-7
Republican likely to win
 Arizona Democrats would need only 2 seats to flip both the House and Senate Republican majority
31-29
Republican supermajority
16-14
Republican incumbent is term-limited; toss-up race  
 Arkansas Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
78-22
Republican supermajority
27-7
Republican likely to win
 California Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
60-19
Democrat supermajority
31-9
Democrat likely to win
 Colorado Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
41-24
Democrat majority, but considered somewhat vulnerable
21-14
Democrat likely to win
 Connecticut Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
97-54
Democrat majority
23-13
Democrat likely to win
 Delaware Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
26-15
Democrat supermajority
14-7
Democrat-controlled; no race
 Florida Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
76-42

Republican supermajority
23-16

Republican likely to win
 Georgia Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
103-76
Republican supermajority
34-22
Republican likely to win
 Hawaii Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
47-4
Democrat supermajority
24-1
Democrat likely to win
 Idaho Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
58-12
Republican supermajority
27-7
Republican likely to win 
 Illinois Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
73-45
Democrat supermajority
41-18
Democrat likely to win
 Indiana Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
71-29
Republican supermajority
39-11
Republican-controlled; no race 
 Iowa Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
60-40
Republican supermajority
32-18
Republican likely to win
 Kansas Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
86-39
Republican supermajority
29-11
Democrat-controlled; toss-up race
 Kentucky Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
75-25
Republican supermajority
30-8
Democrat-controlled; no race
 Louisiana There are no races this year Republican supermajority
68-34
Republican supermajority
26-11
Democrat-controlled; no race
 Maine Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
77-63
Democrat majority, but Republicans hoping to flip control
22-13
Democrat-controlled; toss-up race, but leans Democrat
 Maryland Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
99-42
Democrat supermajority
32-15
Republican-controlled; Democrats expected to pick up this seat
 Massachusetts Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
125-27
Democrat supermajority
37-3
Republican-controlled; Democrats expected to pick up this seat
 Michigan Republicans are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Republican majority
56-53
Republican majority
22-16
Democrat likely to win
 Minnesota Control of the House is a toss-up Democrat majority
69-63
Republican-majority
34-31
Democrat likely to win
 Mississippi There are no races this year Republican supermajority
76-42
Republican supermajority
36-16
Republican-controlled; no race
 Missouri Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
107-48
Republican supermajority
24-10
Republican-controlled; no race
 Montana Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
67-33
Republican supermajority
31-19
Republican-controlled; no race
 Nebraska Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of the Senate Nebraska is the only state that is unicameral. Republicans have a supermajority of
32-17
Republican likely to win
 Nevada Democrats are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
25-16
Democrat majority, but considered a toss-up
11-9
Democrat-controlled; toss-up race
 New Hampshire Republicans are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Republican majority
203-179
Republican majority
13-10
Republican likely to win
 New Jersey There are no races this year Democrat majority
46-33
Democrat majority
24-16
Democrat-controlled; no race
 New Mexico Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
44-24
Democrat supermajority
26-15
Democrat-controlled; Republicans hoping to flip this seat
 New York Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
106-43
Democrat supermajority
42-20
Democrat likely to win
 North Carolina Republicans are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Republican majority
69-51
Republican majority
27-22
Democrat-controlled; no race
 North Dakota Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
80-14
Republican supermajority
40-7
Republican-controlled; no race
 Ohio Republicans are expected to maintain control of both chambers Republican supermajority Republican supermajority Republican likely to win
 Oklahoma Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
82-18
Republican supermajority
39-
9
Republican likely to win
 Oregon Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat majority
36-23
Democrat supermajority
18-11
Democrat-controlled; toss-up race
 Pennsylvania Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican majority
113-89
Republican majority
28-21
Democrat likely to win
 Rhode Island Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
65-10
Democrat supermajority
33-5
Democrat likely to win
 South Carolina Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
81-43
Republican supermajority
30-16
Republican likely to win
 South Dakota Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
62-8
Republican supermajority
32-3
Republican likely to win
 Tennessee Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
72-24
Republican supermajority
27-6
Republican likely to win
 Texas Republicans are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Republican majority
83-65
Republican majority
18-13
Republican likely to win
 Utah Republicans are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Republican supermajority
58-17
Republican supermajority
23-6
Republican-controlled; no race 
 Vermont Democrats are expected to maintain supermajority control of both chambers Democrat supermajority
91-46-7
Democrat supermajority
21-7-2
Republican likely to win
 Virginia There are no races this year Republican-controlled
52-48
Democrat-controlled
21-19
Republican-controlled; no race
 Washington Democrats are expected to maintain majority control of both chambers Democrat majority
57-41
Democrat majority
29-20
Democrat-controlled; no race
 West Virginia Republicans are expected to maintain control of both chambers Republican supermajority
77-22
Republican supermajority
23-11
Republican-controlled; no race
 Wisconsin Republicans are expected to maintain control of both chambers Republican supermajority
57-38
Republican supermajority
21-12
Democrat-controlled; considered a toss-up race
 Wyoming Republicans are expected to maintain control of both chambers Republican supermajority
51-7
Republican supermajority
28-2
Republican likely to win

 


[1] According to a recent Monmouth Poll, sixty-three percent of voters say inflation, gas prices, the economy, or everyday bills/groceries is their top concern. That said, Democrat and GOP groups alike acknowledge the Dobbs Supreme Court decision may diminish the size of the “red wave”.