Senate Elections Worry Dems

by Alexis Booker ‘23

In the last national election in 2020, Democrats ended up with 50 out of 100 seats in the Senate, gaining a majority due to Vice President Kamala Harris who is responsible for breaking ties. With the 2022 midterms less than a week away, predictions have fluctuated between either party having the possibility of controlling the Senate. Democrats pulled slightly ahead during the late summer, but there has been a later shift that favors Republicans. Through this year, it will ultimately come down to key pieces of legislation and prominent Senate races that will decide the fate of congress for the rest of President Joe Biden’s term.

In the first half of this year, progressives became disappointed with Democrats following their inability to pass a $15 minimum wage and the Voting Rights Act, among other priorities. This dynamic quickly shifted, however, when the Democratic party became unified in response to Roe v. Wade being overturned by a Supreme Court decision on June 24. The ruling allows states to effectively ban access to abortion. Biden then continued to gain more traction with voters by exploring different solutions in response to the ruling, such as using Medicaid to cover abortions and federally protecting reproductive healthcare services. He has also continued efforts surrounding other issues such as lowering gas prices and opening applications for student loan forgiveness. Despite Biden’s and other Democrats’ efforts, however, inflation is the primary concern among most American voters. This concern ties in with Republicans’ promise to address the economy should they control the Senate and House of Representatives.

There are key Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin that will likely determine the Senate majority. The Pennsylvania race is extremely tight as Democratic candidate John Fetterman attempts to maintain his lead against Republican candidate Mehmet Oz among concerns about Fetterman’s health as he recovers from a stroke he suffered in the spring.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s race has become messy in light of Republican candidate Herschel Walker’s controversies surrounding his past in paying for his former girlfriend’s abortions, which he denies. Despite Walker’s stumbles, his race against Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock falls within the margin of error as many Republican voters in Georgia state they care more about how Walker votes in the Senate than about his personal life.

Nevada’s race could give Republicans another opportunity to flip a seat in their favor. Republican candidate Adam Laxalt is pulling ahead of Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto. By narrowing in on crime and inflation, Laxalt has appealed to new audiences who are concerned with issues that Democrats have struggled to address.

Incumbent Senator Ron Johnson and leading Democratic candidate Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin currently have competing leads against one another in polls, with Johnson slightly favored to keep his position in the Senate. This is likely because his platform primarily addresses crime, a popular subject amongst Wisconsin voters. The race in Wisconsin is crucial to Democrats holding onto control of the Senate, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is rallying college students in Wisconsin on November 4 and 5 to vote.

Just a few short months ago, Democrats had a strong chance at maintaining control of the Senate, but uncertainty is creeping in due to mixed signals in key swing states. At this point in time, there is no concrete prediction to be made on which party will control the Senate following election day on November 8.