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2022 Midterms: A Guide to the Races Worth Watching

A cheat sheet for all the crucial races, upsets, and campaign drama from now through Election Day.

Photo-Illustration: Marcus Peabody/Getty Images
Photo-Illustration: Marcus Peabody/Getty Images

The primaries are now in full swing, with 17 states holding elections this month to nominate candidates for November. The 2022 midterms will determine whether Democrats retain or lose their fragile control over the U.S. Senate and House, along with the balance of power in many states holding legislative and gubernatorial contests. Typically the president’s party loses ground in midterms, particularly if he’s as unpopular as Joe Biden and the economy is troubled. The odds are high that Republicans will take the House and make some state-level gains. Democrats may be able to hold onto the Senate thanks to a favorable landscape, though the size of the likely Republican “wave” will make a lot of difference up and down the ballot.

With a third of the U.S. Senate up for reelection and 36 states holding gubernatorial contests, there’s a lot to keep track of. This guide, which we’ll update throughout the cycle, will help you track all the crucial races, primary upsets, and campaign drama — both Donald Trump–fueled and naturally occurring — from now through Election Day on November 8.

U.S. Senate Races

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Ohio: A hillbilly’s elegy

Primary Date: May 3
The Republican Primary: J.D. Vance won a tense, expensive multi-candidate battle. All but one prospect (Matt Dolan) pledged fealty to Trump, but Vance — the venture capitalist, Hillbilly Elegy author, and populist favorite — won the ex-president’s endorsement and then the primary, edging out early front-runner Josh Mandel and late surging Dolan.
The Democratic Primary: Congressman and former 2020 presidential candidate Tim Ryan easiy won the Democratic nomination. He’s hoping the nasty GOP primary will help him overcome Ohio’s recent Republican trend.

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Pennsylvania: Is the doctor in?

Primary Date: May 17
The Republican Primary: Senator Pat Toomey’s retirement sparked a highly competitive, multi-candidate GOP primary to succeed him. Trump upended the race when he endorsedMehmet Oz. The TV doctor battled former hedge-fund executive David McCormick, with each man accusing the other of ideological heresy and affection for China. There was a late surge of support for former Fox News gabber Kathy Barnette; who was endorsed by gubernatorial front-runner Doug Mastriano. On Election Night, Oz and McCormick were virtually tied, but with a recount underway McCormick conceded, making Oz the nominee.
The Democrats: Eccentric progressive Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman easily defeated Congressman Conor Lamb and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, despite Fetterman suffering a stroke and then having a pacemaker installed on primary day.
The General Election: The Oz-Fetterman contest should be one of the most highly competitive 2022 races, as Pennsylvania narrowly went for Trump in 2016 and for Biden in 2020.

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North Carolina: Trump’s Budd wins.

Primary Date: May 17
The Republican Primary: The early front-runner was former governor Pat McCrory, but he was soundly defeated by three-term congressman and House Freedom Caucus member Ted Budd, who got an early endorsement from Trump. Former congressman Mark Walker trailed badly.
The Democratic Primary: The Democratic field has been dominated by former state Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley, who won the nomination easily. She’s been a strong fundraiser, and has gained national visibility in her effort to become just the third Black woman ever to serve in the U.S. Senate.
The General Election: The race should be competitive, but since North Carolina leans slightly Republican, the GOP nominee is favored to win.

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Alabama: Brooks Loses to Britt After Being Dumped By Trump.

Primary Date: May 24
The Republican Primary: The initial front-runner for the GOP nomination to succeed 86-year-old Senator Richard Shelby was Congressman Mo Brooks, who led the charge in Congress to execute Trump’s election coup. The former president endorsed Brooks only to drop him on absurd accusations of wokeness as he plunged in the polls. Brooks was replaced at the top of most polls by Mike Durant, a wealthy businessman famed as a survivor of the Somalia firefight that inspired the book and movie Black Hawk Down. But Durant was soon eclipsed by Katie Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff who later ran Alabama’s top business lobby. Amazingly the Trump-less Brooks launched a comeback and made the June 21 runoff, trailing Britt 45-29. But then Trump endorsed Britt, who won the runoff easily.
The Democratic Primary: Democrats have all but conceded the Senate seat to Republicans, with perennial candidate and minister Will Boyd likely to win the nomination.

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Georgia: Walker Glides to the Senate Nomination

Primary Date: May 24
The General Election: Less than two years after winning a special-election runoff to help Democrats flip two Georgia Senate seats and seize control of the chamber, Senator Raphael Warnock is running for a full term. He’s been raising money at an epic clip, and he’ll likely need it. The race will be one of the most-watched in the country given Georgia’s emergence as a national battleground state.
The Republican Primary: Georgia football legend Herschel Walker easily won the Republican Senate nomination over a large field of rivals who never really laid a glove on him. The strongest of them, Gary Black, the state agriculture commissioner, went after Walker for shady business dealings, allegedly making threats against his ex-wife, and his admitted history of mental illness. But “Herschel” is a living icon in the state, and with help from both Trump and Mitch McConnell, he’s raising a lot of money (though not as much as Warnock so far) and won more than two-thirds of the vote. Subsequently reporters revealed Walker had a previously unacknowledged son out of wedlock, adding to perceptions of a troubled past.

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Nevada: The senator’s son (and grandson).

Primary Date: June 14
The General Election: Freshman senator Catherine Cortez Masto is one of this year’s most vulnerable Democratic senators. The general election should be a barn-burner, as Republicans have recently been chipping away at the advantage Democrats held when Harry Reid was their election strategist.
The Republican Primary: The Republican chosen by both Trump and state party leaders to take on Cortez Masto was former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, the grandson of legendary Nevada governor and senator Paul Laxalt, and son of New Mexico senator Pete Domenici. Laxalt has been a loud booster of Trump’s election-fraud claims, but was nearly outflanked on the right by primary opponent Sam Brown. Eventually, Laxalt won the nomination by a comfortable margin.

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Colorado: A bad year for Bennet?

Primary Date: June 28
The Republican Primary: Republicans are choosing between one Trumpy extremist (state legislator Ron Hanks, who won the state party convention) and a businessman running as a get-things-done pragmatist (Joe O’Dea, who got on the ballot by collecting signatures). O’Dea is the rare pro-choice Republican; that could help him in a general election but hurt him in the primary. A Colorado Democratic PAC is running ads attacking Hanks as “too conservative for Colorado,” in a ploy designed to help him among conservative primary voters.
The General Election: Colorado is a fairly solid blue state, but Senator Michael Bennet, a failed presidential candidate who has never topped 50 percent in two prior elections, could be vulnerable. Bennet remains the favorite, but if the GOP wave is large, look out.

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Oklahoma: A primary so nice Republicans are doing it twice.

Primary Date: June 28
The Republican Primary: Oklahoma voters get to choose two Senate nominees this year. The first is for the seat currently held by Republican James Lankford. His opponent, Evangelical pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, has been endorsed by an impressive array of the hardest-core MAGA extremists, including Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and Mike Lindell. Nevertheless, Lankford expected to win easily in both June and November.
The Special Election: The race to complete the term of Republican senator James Inhofe, who has announced he will step down next year, is dicier. The front-runner among 13 Republicans is probably Representative Markwayne Mullin, but the best known nationally is former Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. With so large and varied a field it seems likely the nomination will go to an August 23 runoff (Oklahoma requires a majority for nominations). Democratic former congresswoman Kendra Horn is capable of giving Republicans a scare if their candidate stumbles.

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Arizona: Welcome to the Wild West!

Primary Date: August 2
The Republican Primary: For months the GOP primary front-runner was state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the one candidate in the race who has been sharply criticized by Trump (for his lack of support for Maricopa County’s infamous 2020 election audit). Luckily for Brnovich, the MAGA vote was splintered between self-funding businessman Jim Lamon, Thiel Capital executive Blake Masters, and former National Guard adjutant general Mick McGuire. But on June 2 Trump endorsed Masters, which may help him consolidate the vote of Trump loyalists. Brnovich, has performed better than his rivals in general-election polls.
The General Election: Freshman senator Mark Kelly is another Democratic incumbent who’s vulnerable because he’s running in a highly competitive state in a good year for Republicans. The astronaut-turned-senator has been quietly building a big fundraising haul while Republicans battle to see who will take him on.

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Missouri: Greitens gives Republicans grief.

ReprPrimary Date: August 2
The Republican Primary:Eric Greitens, who was forced to resign as governor in 2018 thanks to a sex scandal and campaign-finance irregularities, is attempting a political comeback, campaigning as a MAGA outsider who has been victimized by corrupt politicians. Until recently he was leading a large field of conservative candidates, including state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Representative Vicky Hartzler, Trump favorite Billy Long, and lawyer Mark McCloskey. But then Greitens’s ex-wife accused him of physically abusing both her and their kids, causing him to lose some ground. A Trump endorsement could matter a lot.
The Democratic Primary: Trudy Busch Valentine, heir to the Busch beer fortune, is the likely nominee.
The General Election: The open Senate seat of retiring Republican Roy Blunt should be an easy win for the GOP in this rapidly red-trending state. But Greitens would be a white-knuckle proposition against the Democratic nominee.

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Wisconsin: Can Ron Johnson do it again?

Primary Date: August 9
The Republican Primary: Two-term incumbent Senator Ron Johnson is a conspiracy theory-spouting conservative who seems perpetually in political trouble. But he has twice exceeded expectations in a state that has been trending conservative since 2010.
The Democratic Primary: Two Democrats appear to be ahead of the pack running to take on Johnson: Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry.
The General Election: Given Wisconsin’s degree of partisan polarization, the names of the candidates may not matter a lot, though Johnson has some demonstrable appeal to anti-government independents (if he can get them to vote). A lot of national money will come into the general election contest in this state.

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Florida: No longer a battleground state?

Primary Date: August 23
The Democratic Primary: In Representative Val Demings, Democrats have an unusually strong candidate to take on GOP senator Marco Rubio. Demings is raising a lot of money and seems well ahead of the large field of candidates.
The General Election: After 2020, the conventional wisdom held that Florida had tipped from purple to red thanks to Democratic losses among Hispanic voters and superior GOP campaign tactics. Demings may be the strongest possible Rubio opponent, but polls show the incumbent with a solid and steady lead in the high single digits. Given 2022’s pro-Republican dynamics, his seat should be safe.

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New Hampshire: Did Hassan dodge a bullet?

Primary Date: September 13
The Republican Primary: Popular New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu disappointed both state and national Republicans by opting not to run for the Senate. With Sununu out, Republicans do not have an impressive group of candidates. The front-runner is former Special Forces general Don Bolduc, a hard-core MAGA activist. His strongest rival on paper, former state senate president Chuck Morse, hasn’t really caught on yet. The filing deadline isn’t until June, so better-known Republicans could still enter the race.
The General Election: The best day of freshman Democratic senator Maggie Hassan’s reelection campaign was when Sununu said he wouldn’t run against her. Since then she’s been posting not very encouraging job-approval numbers, and President Biden seems to be very unpopular in the Granite State, despite having carried it handily in 2020.

Gubernatorial Races

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Ohio: Whaley will challenge DeWine

Primary Date: May 3
The Republican Primary: Incumbent Republican governor Mike DeWine angered some MAGA folk with his decisions related to the pandemic. But he easily won renomination to a second term, trailed by former congressman Jim Renacci and farmer Joe Blystone (an organizer of anti-lockdown protests after a DeWine decision forced him to close a restaurant he owned). Trump did not make an endorsement.
The Democratic Primary: This was a competitive race between two former mayors: John Cranley of Cincinnati and Nan Whaley of Dayton. Whaley won by a surprising large margin, and will seek to overcome Ohio’s increasinglyRepublican bent.

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Nebraska: Nasty allegations blow up the GOP race.

Primary Date: May 10
The Republican Primary: Wealthy farmer and Trump endorsee Charles Herbster was steadily leading in polls for the GOP nomination to succeed term-limited Governor Pete Ricketts when eight women (including a Republican state senator) accused him of sexual assault in recent years. Coached by Trump himself, Herbster fired back at his accusers, claiming they were smearing him on behalf of his primary opponent Jim Pillen. But the damage was done: Pillen (backed by term-limited current governor Pete Ricketts) beat Herbster in the primary.
The Democratic Primary: State Senator Carol Blood is the Democratic nominee, but she doesn’t have much of a chance in deep-red Nebraska.

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Oregon: A three-way general election looms.

Primary Date: May 17
The Democratic Primary: With unpopular Democratic incumbent Kate Brown term-limited, Oregon’s primaries have been wide open in both parties. The Democratic primary took a detour when former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was knocked off the ballot for not satisfying residency requirements. This left two well-known Democrats in the race: former longtime House Speaker Tina Kotek and State Treasurer Tobias Read. Kotek won by a comfortable margin, and will now face concerns she is too progressive or too much like Brown.
The Republican Primary: Republicans had a large field with no real powerhouses; former state legislative leader Christine Drazan leads law-and-order champion Bob Tiernan in late returns but the race hasn’t been called.
The General Election: In a state with a lot of anger at the political establishment, former Democratic legislator Betsy Johnson is waging a serious and well-financed independent campaign that could create a rare three-way race.

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Idaho: Little wins a true Republican grudge match.

Primary Date: May 17
The Republican Primary:Governor Brad Little and Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin were not on the same page even before the latter decided to challenge the former’s renomination. A fiery MAGA activist who is friendly toward Idaho’s notorious right-wing militias, McGeachin took strong objection to Little’s relatively mild COVID-19 measures, twice overruling them upon briefly becoming acting governor when the actual governor was out of state (Little rescinded her actions immediately). While McGeachin got priceless exposure and also snagged a Trump endorsement, Little trounced her soundly.
The General Election: An unknown teacher was the only candidate who filed for the Democratic primary, which is a sign of how bad things have become for the party in Idaho.

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Pennsylvania: Mastriano is the Trumpiest of them all.

Primary Date: May 17
The Republican Primary: While Democrats have already united behind state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Republicans had a large field of rivals jostling for attention. State Senator Doug Mastriano, who became famous for promoting Trumpy conspiracy theories, took a strong lead in late polls, even before the former president endorsed him on May 14. Despite an effort from Republican establishment figures to consolidate support behind former congressman Lou Barletta (another MAGA enthusiast), Mastriano won easily.
The General Election: Republicans would dearly love to flip the governorship held by term-limited Democrat Tom Wolf, likely giving them a trifecta in the 2024 battleground state, where Trump fans are still consumed with election-fraud fables. But Mastriano may have been their weakest option; he begins the general election campaign as an underdog against Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

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Georgia: Brian Kemp trounces Perdue (and Trump).

Primary Date: May 24
The Republican Primary: When former U.S. Senator David Perdue announced he would challenge incumbent Governor Brian Kemp last December, it looked like Trump’s plan to purge Kemp for not supporting his 2020 election-fraud claims might succeed. But that was the high point of Perdue’s campaign. Kemp heavily outspent his challenger, and also outflanked Perdue on the right by demagoguing on “election integrity,” enacting base-voter-pleasing tax cuts, gasoline-price measures, anti-abortion laws, and unlicensed gun-carry rights. Kemp eventually won with nearly three-fourths of the primary vote, allowing him to skip an expensive runoff and begin reuniting his party to take on Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.
The General Election: Abrams is unopposed in the Democratic primary, and is hoping the lessons she learned in her narrow 2018 loss to Kemp and the continued demographic evolution of Georgia can offset the pro-Republican midterm dynamics.

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Nevada: Can Democrats hold it together?

Primary Date: June 14
The Republican Primary: Democratic governor Steve Sisolak is running for reelection, and a large field of Republican challengers has formed anticipating a GOP sweep in the state this November, thanks to grim economic conditions and Democratic weakness among their key Latino constituency. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo managed to pick up a Trump endorsement without having to say too many zany things. Former U.S. senator Dean Heller was also in the race, along with North Las Vegas mayor John Lee, but it was anti-vaccine-and-mask-mandate crusader Joey Gilbert who gave Lombardo a scare, before the sheriff won the primary with a plurality.
The General Election:Conflicting polls have Sisolak holding a modest lead over Lombardo, or trailing him by a couple of points. The race should stay close to the end, with Democrats trying to rev up the voter-mobilization mechanisms put into place by the late Harry Reid.

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Illinois: Battle of the billionaires.

Primary Date: June 28
The Republican Primary: The 2018 Illinois governor’s race set spending records, with billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker and his opponent spending over a quarter of a billion dollars before Pritzker prevailed. This year, Pritzker has already poured a reported $125 million into his reelection campaign, while conservative billionaires are lavishly funding the campaigns of Aurora mayor Richard Irvin and State Senator Darren Bailey. Irvin is the perceived front-runner, and has largely ignored his primary opponents. Bailey is running an overtly right-wing, anti-Establishment campaign, attacking Pritzker’s COVID-19 strategy and accusing Irvin of insufficient conservatism. He benefited from a late Trump endorsement, and from heavy spending by Pritzker in attack ads aimed at Irvin.
The General Election:Trial heats show Pritzker maintaining a comfortable lead over the major Republican candidates in this blue state. But the midterm atmosphere alongside suburban and rural fears about crime and inflation will keep Democrats nervous … and Pritzker spending.

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Colorado: The GOP looks to end a losing streak.

Primary Date: June 28
The Republican Primary: The last time Republicans won a governor’s race in Colorado was in 2002. Their only statewide elected official, Board of Regents member Heidi Ganahl, is one of two GOP candidates, along with Greg Lopez, mayor of the Denver suburb of Parker. A Democratic PAC has been conducting heavy ad spending labeling Lopez “too conservative for Colorado” in a ploy designed to boost him among Republican voters on grounds he would be the weaker nominee.
The General Election: Incumbent Democrat Jared Polis has generally solid job approval ratings, the ability to self-fund a campaign, and a big lead over GOP front-runner Ganahl in the most recent polling. Republicans better hope for a wave election. Colorado isn’t out of reach for them, but it’s a tough nut to crack.

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Maryland: Democrats are happy Hogan’s out.

Primary Date: July 29
The Democratic Primary: Republican Larry Hogan’s two terms as governor have been deeply frustrating for Democrats in this very blue state. Now that he’s hit term limits, a large and highly credentialed field of Democrats has assembled to pursue the governorship. The early front-runner is State Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has been a fixture in Maryland politics for eons. There are plenty of other options for Democrats, including former Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker; former U.S. Labor secretary and DNC chair Tom Perez; best-selling inspirational author Wes Moore; former attorney general Doug Gansler; and former U.S. Education secretary John King.
The Republican Primary: The top Republican candidates are Kelly Schulz, who held two cabinet positions under Hogan and has his endorsement, and state legislator and MAGA bravo Daniel Cox, who was endorsed by Trump.
The General Election: Barring a party split, the Democratic nominee should be favored against either Republican, but Hogan’s reputation is on the line with Schulz’s primary bid.

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Arizona: Republicans defend their trifecta.

Primary Date: August 2
The Republican Primary: With two-term Republican governor Doug Ducey term-limited, the party he more or less held together is showing some fissures. A strong supporter of election-fraud fantasies, local Fox anchor Kari Lake won Trump’s endorsement early on and is running a full-on MAGA campaign. She has led in every public poll so far. A recent surge in support on a wave of spending has put Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, a self-funding real-estate developer and the budding favorite of more temperate Republicans, into second place, trailed by former congressman Matt Salmon, who represents pre-Trump hard-core conservatism.
The Democratic Primary: The longtime front-runner is the top state Democratic officeholder, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She’s gained significant national exposure for her mocking but expert commentary on the bizarre Maricopa County “2020 election audit.”
The General Election: This will be a marquee race and one where Democrats have a rare opportunity to bust up the Arizona GOP’s governing trifecta.

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Michigan: Whitmer versus the world.

Primary Date: August 2
Republican Primary: With incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer unopposed in her primary, all the action has been in the GOP, where a large field has assembled. Three candidates have dominated early polls: former Detroit police chief James Craig, a Black ex-Democrat running on support for law enforcement and conservative cultural themes; Perry Johnson, a self-funding business consultant, author, and motivational speaker; and Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor who gained a large online following by leading protests against Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies. Democrats have thrown a potential monkey wrench into the primary by contesting the ballot petitions of Craig, Johnson, and a third GOP candidate, Tudor Dixon. There’s no telling what will happen if the top two candidates are tossed off the primary ballot.
General Election: Whitmer has been raising a lot of national money for her reelection race, and she has become enough of a lightning rod for MAGA conservatives that her ultimate Republican opponent will be well-funded as well. Whitmer is a slight favorite, unless a national GOP wave undoes her.

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2022 Midterms: A Guide to the Races Worth Watching