What to know about Senate, House races with midterms approaching

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

If you are already tired of political ads and polls, we have bad news for you: It’s only going to ramp up even more.

The start of October means we are getting toward the homestretch until Election Day in November, and no doubt there are critical races across the country that will shape representation and control in Washington, D.C. for the foreseeable future.

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Here’s an overview of where things stand in the Senate and House of Representatives with the election more than a month away.


Right now, the Republicans have 50 seats, the Democrats have 48 and two seats belong to Independents who align themselves with Democrats, so technically it’s the Democrats who have a majority based on Vice President Kamala Harris having the power to issue tiebreaking votes.

There are elections for 35 seats this fall, with 21 of those available seats being defended by Republicans.

Of those 35 races, four have been referred to by pundits as “toss-ups.” Those races are in the following states:

  • Arizona. As of a poll released on Sept. 30, Sen. Mark Kelly, the incumbent Democrat, had widened his lead to seven points (49% to 42%) over Republican challenger Blake Masters, a venture capitalist.
  • Georgia. In a Fox News poll released on Sept. 28, Sen. Raphael Warnock, the incumbent Democrat who won a runoff election in January 2021, held a five-point lead (46% to 41%) over Republican nominee Herschel Walker, a former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL running back. If neither candidate garners 50% of the vote, another runoff election would take place.
  • Nevada. A poll released on Oct. 2 showed that Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada Attorney General, has a two-point lead (45% to 43%) over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic incumbent.
  • Wisconsin. In a poll released on Sept. 29, incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson had a five-point lead (51% to 46%) over Democratic challenger and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. The poll showed that Johnson is trending higher, given Barnes held a seven-point lead in an August poll.

As for the other races, six of them are deemed to be competitive, according to a report on cbsnews.com. Races in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina are leaning Republican, while races in Colorado, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are leaning to the Democrats.

House of Representatives

Right now, Democrats hold 221 of the 435 House seats, with Republicans holding 212. There are two vacant seats that will have special elections in November, one of which will probably be a Republican seat in Indiana. Assuming that holds true, Republicans need a gain of five seats to get to 218 and regain control of the House.

Every single House seat is up for grabs in November, and several pundits believe the Republicans will likely net enough seats and take back control of the House.

The reason is a combination of redistricting that has led to Republicans gaining votes in certain races, and the fact 22 Democratic members of the House are retiring.

There is not only an expectation that the Republicans will net the five seats to earn a majority, but they will go well beyond that.

Some Democrats have quietly said a good election night will see the Republicans net single-digit gains in the House, according to an article on Politico.

The big issues with voters seem to be inflation and abortion rights, according to NPR, and candidates will no doubt be spending the final month-plus until Election Day campaigning on why they are the best candidates/party to solve any concerns Americans have on those issues.

In other words, get ready for a busy homestretch and even more ads until Nov. 8.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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