LOS ANGELES - There’s a lot at stake during the 2022 midterm elections. Both chambers of Congress and dozens of governorships and state offices are up for grabs, effectively putting the direction of the country at a crossroads.
While the Democrats currently control Washington, they are on the defensive for the midterms. They have been sculpting a 2022 legislative agenda that would generate achievements and reassure voters that they’re addressing pocketbook problems and can govern competently.
These midterm elections are sure to be historically significant as the nation crawls out of a global pandemic amid concerns of inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All this comes as President Joe Biden has experienced low approval ratings.
According to a poll released this month by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Biden hit a low for his year-old presidency with more people disapproving than approving of his job performance, 56% to 43%.
History bodes ill for Democrats. The party holding the White House has lost House seats in 17 of the 19 midterm elections since World War II, averaging 28 losses per election. Republicans would grab House control in November by gaining five seats.
When are the 2022 midterm elections?
Texas will kick off the 2022 primary calendar on Tuesday, March 1. Twelve states will hold primaries in May, and June will be the busiest month with 18 states holding elections.
Here is a list of the full 2022 primary calendar:
Tuesday, March 1
Tuesday, April 5
- CA-22 special primary
Tuesday, May 3
Tuesday, May 10
- West Virginia
Tuesday, May 17
- North Carolina
Tuesday, May 24
- Texas (runoff)
Tuesday, June 7
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- CA-22 special general (if necessary)
Tuesday, June 14
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
Tuesday, June 21
- District of Columbia
- Alabama (runoff)
- Arkansas (runoff)
- Georgia (runoff)
Tuesday, June 28
- New York
- Mississippi (runoff)
- South Carolina (runoff)
Tuesday, July 26
- North Carolina (runoff)
Tuesday, August 2
Thursday, August 4
Tuesday, August 9
Saturday, August 13
Tuesday, August 16
- South Dakota (runoff)
Tuesday, August 23
- Oklahoma (runoff)
Tuesday, September 6
Tuesday, September 13
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Tuesday, November 8
- Election Day
- Louisiana (open primaries)
Tuesday, December 6
- Georgia runoffs
Saturday, December 10
- Louisiana runoffs
Which states have gubernatorial elections in 2022
Currently, there are 36 gubernatorial seats on the ballot in 2022. The elections will be held in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Three U.S. territories are also holding gubernatorial elections in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
How many US Senate seats are up for reelection?
Elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on Nov. 8, 2022, and 34 of the 100 seats are up for grabs. The lawmakers elected to those seats will begin their six-year terms starting Jan. 3, 2023.
A special election is also scheduled for Nov. 8, 2022, to fill the rest of the six-year term that California Democrat Kamala Harris was elected to in 2016 and vacated after being elected to the vice presidency.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla was tapped to fill the seat through this year and has officially launched his campaign for reelection.
What is sure to make these midterms contentious is that 14 seats held by Democrats and 20 seats held by Republicans will be up for election this year. Republicans are currently defending two Senate seats in states that Biden won in the 2020 presidential election — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
How many US House seats are up for reelection?
All 435 House seats are up for grabs this year. As of February 2022, Democrats held a majority of 222-211 in the U.S. House, with two vacant seats.
It’s still too early to gauge voter interest
Speaking with FOX TV Stations, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin, said polls indicate voter turnout and overall interest is not as high compared to the 2020 presidential election and the 2018 midterms.
Henson believes that both parties are rallied behind strong beliefs, although the GOP appears more united behind a variety of overarching themes like border security. There is also the residue of a political stain leftover from misinformation spewed by Trump that has eroded trust in the system and fueled many Republican voters’ belief that Biden’s 2020 victory was illegitimate.
Despite many ethical concerns surrounding the Trump name, Henson says most GOP candidates will gladly use the former president’s blessing to gain confidence among their constituents.
Henson points out the "ethical issues" surrounding incumbent Republican Texas attorney general candidate Ken Paxton, who has reportedly violated the state’s open records laws by withholding or failing to retain his communications relating to his appearance at a pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last year.
Despite these ethical concerns, Henson believes the Trump brand and Paxton are "familiar" figures to voters. While Henson notes that while ethics are sure to play a role in the midterms, "it appears relatively easy for these candidates to deflect those kinds of concerns."
Henson recalls the 2018 primaries in which Paxton faced many ethical concerns and still won.
As Texas gears up to kick off the 2022 midterms, does it appear to be a leading indicator given how early the state is in the cycle?
Henson says early signs appear to show a general sense of disengagement and exhaustion with politics that is more widespread this term, but it might be too soon to tell.
While there may be a ton of noise and early indicators on what party has these elections in the bag, Henson and many other experts would be quick to remind voters that it is unwise to jump the gun. In fact, a survey published in 2020 by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Opinion Research and USAFacts found most voters distrusted most campaign info.
After all, polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight, an organization heavily relied upon by voters for their forecasts, incorrectly predicted Hilary Clinton winning the 2016 presidential election with a more than 70% chance of victory.
"I think there’s a tendency to over-interpret special elections but I think the way the environment is looking now we’re looking at kind of the same set of upper Midwestern states across the Old Rust Belt and the states that have been more competitive, we’ll be looking to those as bellwethers," Henson offered.
Key midterm races to look out for
Alaska is holding an election for governor and lieutenant governor on Nov. 8, 2022. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2022. Incumbent Mike Dunleavy, Les Gara, Christopher Kurka, and Bill Walker are running in the primary for governor of Alaska
"The Last Frontier" state also has a highly contentious Senate seat up for grabs. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is expected to face stiff competition in the primary after voting to convict Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection. State official Kelly Tshibaka is seen as her biggest competitor in the GOP; Tshibaka has been endorsed by Trump.
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is running for reelection to secure a Senate seat after winning a special election in 2020. A large Republican field is expected in the primaries, with frontrunners including current Attorney General Mark Brnovich and venture capitalist Blake Masters.
For the state’s gubernatorial race, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (who oversaw last year's controversial election in Arizona) is running against four high-profile GOP candidates — former TV news anchor Kari Lake, former GOP Congressman Matt Salmon, and two well-funded candidates Karen Taylor Robson and Steve Gaynor.
Polls indicate Gov. Gavin Newsom will likely win re-election unless he gets caught in a major controversy again, similar to when he was seen breaking strict COVID rules at the French Laundry in Napa Valley. This race should be locked up but it's full of celebrity drama — and it's well known that Newsom has aspirations to run for president.
Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock is back to defend his seat in the Georgia Senate after winning it in 2020. The top Republican challenger at the moment is former football star Herschel Walker, who has been endorsed by Trump.
One of the most contentious new figures in Congress, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, is up for reelection in Georgia. Republicans and Democrats in her district say she'll face a tough reelection challenge in 2022. Greene had peddled Qanon conspiracy theories prior to the election, supported false claims about the election, and has compared mask mandates to the Holocaust, among other things.
Georgia voters will also come to the ballots to vote for a new secretary of state. Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who made headlines following Trump's 2020 election loss in Georgia, is seeking re-election. The former president has been critical of Raffensperger, who has defended himself and his office saying that the election in Georgia was secure. An investigation is underway regarding a phone conversation Trump made to Raffensperger about "finding votes."
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for a second term. There will be a primary in August and a general election in November. It's expected to be one of the watched races in the nation, and the most expensive. DeSantis is widely speculated to be a presidential contender in 2024, complicating his relationship with former president Trump.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Congressman Charlie Christ are among the potential Democratic candidates expected to take on DeSantis, though most polls show him defeating either challenger.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is facing an election where he'll answer to pandemic executive orders and shutdowns. Some of his opponents have directly attacked him for the decisions he's made. Last month, though, the state projected a record-setting $7.7 billion surplus and he's giving some of that back to taxpayers in the form of rebate checks.
Experts also say this will be a crucial election because Minnesota has the only split legislature in the country.
GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is facing primary challengers from his right but is expected to prevail and take on likely Democratic nominee Beto O'Rourke in the fall.
Abbott, who has served as Texas governor since 2015, built up a bankroll of money before O’Rourke even entered the race last November — and experts say
Polling since then has shown the likely Democratic nominee is five to 10 points behind the Republican incumbent.
"The difficulty for Beto O'Rourke is giving Democrats hope that he can actually be victorious," Mark P. Jones, a fellow in political science at the Baker Institute, told FOX 4 Dallas in a Feb. 15 interview.