This year, the lion’s share of attention has been focused on the battle for control of both chambers of Congress, as well as the hotly competitive races for many key governorships around the country. But just as important are the 88 different state legislative chambers that are up for election on Nov. 8, given the deluge of extremist policy initiatives that have emerged from red states on matters from abortion to LGBTQ rights to education to voting rights and much more.
With thousands of legislative seats on the ballot nationwide, Daily Kos Elections is helping make sense of it all with this guide to the most important chambers and races to follow on election night from coast to coast. As is the case federally, Democrats are largely playing defense—including in a couple of states where they’re desperately trying to keep the GOP from winning supermajorities—though thanks to a handful of maps that have been ungerrymandered for the first time, there are a few opportunities for offense, as well.
This post is organized into two sections. The first features the most competitive battlegrounds, along with key bellwether races to watch. Below that, you’ll find some additional states that are longer shots to flip but could nonetheless prove interesting. We’ve also included a summary of the current composition of each chamber, with vacancies assigned to the party that last held each seat. Note that redistricting has scrambled the district lines across the board, which is why we’ve also added links to interactive maps for every chamber.
The most competitive chambers
Seven states have at least one chamber that one or both parties think is endangered as we head into Election Day. Daunting for Democrats is the fact that they are only really on offense in one of these states, Michigan. While they could in theory make a run at the Alaska and Minnesota senates, which would only require a pickup of a handful of seats, both still represent difficult challenges.
Most concerning for Democrats is the presence of places like New Mexico and Colorado on this list—blue states where they hold both chambers. But based on their spending, both parties believe those chambers are most definitely in play.
ALASKA HOUSE: 21 Majority Coalition (15 D, 2 R, 4 I), 19 R | MAP
This chamber is the oddest duck in the nation. Since 2016, the GOP has won a nominal majority of seats in every election, but a shifting group of Republican pragmatists has joined up with the the chamber’s Democrats and a few independents to create what they’ve called the Majority Coalition. As a result, even though at present the speaker is a Republican, the bulk of the coalition is made up of Democrats.
That coalition will necessarily shift somewhat, thanks to brand-new districts (drawn by a GOP-dominated commission but policed by an independent-minded state Supreme Court) and a healthy number of retirements. One huge change, though, is Alaska’s adoption of a new top-four primary and ranked-choice voting general election system that may benefit moderates, as we saw when Democrat Mary Peltola won the summertime special election to fill the late Rep. Don Young’s House seat. (Up to four candidates advance from each all-party primary.) But for election watchers, some patience will be in order: Officials have announced that the tabulation of any instant runoffs will not take place until Nov. 23.
Races to watch: The ability of the majority to retain power may depend on two districts: one an offensive opportunity against a vulnerable GOP incumbent, the other a defensive hold for one of its own at-risk members. In HD-18, a swingy district in and around Elmendorf Air Force Base (which would have gone 48-47 for Joe Biden), GOP Rep. David Nelson only nabbed 41% in the primary, while two Democrats combined for 59%. Meanwhile, up in the northern part of the state near Fairbanks (HD-34), Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins is on some pretty hostile turf, running for a district that Republicans have typically carried with 55-58% of the vote. Hopkins scored 45% in the primary, and his two opponents on the ballot are both Republicans, so he’ll need a divided GOP (much as we saw in the House special between Sarah Palin and Nick Begich) in order to survive.
ALASKA SENATE: 14 Majority Caucus (13 R, 1 D), 6 D (DEMOCRATS NEED 5 SEATS) | MAP
While not technically impossible, it’s extremely difficult to conjure up a scenario in which the Democrats can win 11 seats here and win the chamber outright. However, it is definitely within the realm of plausible outcomes for the Democrats to gain a couple of seats and put a House-like coalition at least on the table, if not into motion (with the one currently wayward Democrat likely to caucus with whichever party holds a majority). Democrats also got a boost when the state’s top court rejected a GOP attempt to gerrymander a district in the Anchorage area and ordered the adoption of a much swingier seat instead.
The August primary results (which have some predictive value based on their late date and their inclusion of all candidates on a single ballot) suggest such gains might be possible, as they showed Democratic Sen. Scott Kawasaki holding his own in a vulnerable Fairbanks-area seat (District P, which would have gone 54-41 for Donald Trump) over Republican challenger Jim Matherly, edging him out 49-44. It also showed Democratic state Rep. Matt Claman narrowly leading Republican incumbent Sen. Mia Costello in District H, an Anchorage-based seat that Biden would have carried very narrowly.
Races to watch: In addition to the two districts above, keep an eye on the Anchorage-based District G, a GOP-held open seat that Trump won rather easily in 2016 (53-44) but by a far narrower margin in 2020 (50-47). Democrat Janice Park only trailed Republican James Kaufman by a 54-46 margin in the primary.
COLORADO HOUSE: 41 D, 24 R (REPUBLICANS NEED 9 SEATS) | MAP
This is one of the chambers that, on paper, feels as though it that shouldn’t be up for grabs on Election Day. But the Republicans are putting heavy resources into the state, and Democrats—who had agreed with Republicans to cede control over redistricting to a brand-new independent commission—have already declared that defending the Colorado House is a top priority. One thing that makes this battleground particularly concerning for Democrats is the sheer number of open seats they are facing here, due to a combination of incumbents seeking new offices, retirements, and term limits. Without the traditional advantages of incumbency, open seats are always among the likeliest to flip.
Races to watch: You’ll be able to make a very educated guess about the prospects of Democrats by following two particular open districts on election night. In the affluent suburbs just south of Denver (HD-61), Democrat Eliza Hamrick faces Republican Dave Woolever in a district that the president would have won 54-44 but Democratic Gov. Jared Polis would have carried by a smaller 50-47 back in 2018. In HD-46, which is based in the northern parts of Pueblo, Democrat Tisha Mauro takes on Republican Jonathan Ambler in a 51% Biden district. If Democrats win both, it seems very likely that the Democratic majority is safe.
COLORADO SENATE: 21 D, 14 r (republicans NEED 4 seats) | MAP
If Democrats hang on to the Colorado Senate, they might have a gentleman named Kevin Priola to thank. Priola, a veteran Republican state Senator, switched parties this summer, becoming a Democrat because, in his words, “I cannot continue to be part of a political party that is okay with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen.”
As a practical matter, that forces Republicans to pick up four seats instead of three—and since only half the chamber is up for election, that increases the degree of difficulty for the GOP substantially. Republicans still have one better-than-50/50 pickup opportunity in SD-03, where appointed Democratic Sen. Nick Hinrichsen will be swimming upstream in a district Trump narrowly won in 2016 and narrowly lost in 2020. There are also three other Democratic open seats that Sen. John Hickenlooper won by single digits in 2020. Had Priola stayed in the fold, Republicans would’ve only needed two of them, but now they need to run the table: Beyond those three seats, their next best bet is a suburban district with a Democratic incumbent that would have gone 56-41 for Biden.
Races to watch: Those three Democratic-held open seats noted above. Keep an eye on SD-08 (centered around the ski resorts in the Rockies), SD-24 (Thornton/Northglenn), and SD-27 (Centennial and eastern Arapahoe County). All of them would have been very narrow Hillary Clinton wins in 2016 but would have gone for Biden by larger margins in 2020. And remember: Republicans are highly likely to need all three of them.
MAINE HOUSE: 81 d, 66 r, 4 I (republicans NEED 8 seats) | MAP
Like Colorado, Maine seems like a state where Democrats shouldn’t have to worry, since a 15-seat majority in a state that Biden carried by high single digits ought to be secure. But the issue with Maine lies with its unusual level of elasticity. We often see considerable swings in this state (Republicans picked up 11 House seats in 2020 despite Biden’s win) because there are simply so many competitive seats among the 151 districts that make up the state’s lower chamber.
An ancillary issue in Maine that could impact on the margins: Democrats start the election with a handful of seats that almost certainly will be gone on election night. A handful of Democratic incumbents in red districts either retired or were casualties of term limits, leaving open seats in hostile territory. Even in a neutral or mildly favorable political environment, these districts would be vulnerable; in 2022, they are especially so. (Note that in Maine, maps require supermajorities to pass, so Democrats couldn’t gerrymander and the compromise maps somewhat favor Republicans.)
Races to watch: Maine has so many open seats, and so many competitive seats, that the balance of power will almost certainly rely on the ability of Democrats to hold onto evenly divided districts that have opened up this cycle. Keep an eye on HD-142 (Sanford), a district carried by Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. Democrats had a candidate switch when Sanford City Councilman Joseph Hanslip withdrew after the primary but got an above-replacement level substitute when former state Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio stepped in. She faces Pamela Buck, who ran for this seat in 2020 when it was HD-18 and lost to Democrat John Tuttle 53-47 (Tuttle died earlier this year).
There are also a pair of open seats south of Augusta (HD-54 and HD-55) that could be perilous for Democrats. Both districts were carried by Biden and Republican Sen. Susan Collins, and both by relatively similar margins.
MAINE SENATE: 22 D, 13 R (REPublicans NEED 5 seats) | MAP
Much like in the Maine House, the Democrats have some open seat-related headwinds to deal with. They actually have a decent cushion for the size of the chamber, but the fact that the Democrats are defending nine open seats, the majority of which were Biden-Collins seats, has to give Republicans at least a modest amount of optimism. Republicans, meanwhile, are only defending four open seats, only one of which could be seen as swingy (the Waterville-based SD-16). This asymmetry gives Republicans an opening as they seek to retake a chamber they last held in 2018.
Races to watch: Democrats are defending two open seats (SD-08 and SD-20) that Republican Sen. Susan Collins carried by double digits. There is also a very intriguing race in far northern Maine (SD-01), where veteran Democratic incumbent Sen. Troy Jackson has held on by decent margins in a district that, on paper, should be miserable for him (55-43 Trump in 2020). Is this the year, as has happened in so many parts of the country, where partisan lean outweighs incumbency?
MICHIGAN HOUSE: 57 R, 53 D (DEmocrats NEED 3 seats) | MAP
It’s been over a decade since Democrats have held the majority in this swing-to-light blue state thanks to GOP gerrymandering, but Michigan’s first-ever independently drawn maps have renewed Democratic optimism as they seek to reclaim the lower chamber. They got a little help in the spring, when Carol Glanville won the special election in HD-74 (which will be the new HD-84 after redistricting) and narrowed the Republican majority by one seat.
As is the case elsewhere, open seats are playing a huge role as majority-makers, but unlike in many other states, they’re working more to the advantage of the Democrats in Michigan. Republicans are defending 11 seats where the presidential margin was within single digits while Democrats are trying to hold on in just four such districts. What’s more, a small handful of Republicans are dealing with far more hostile districts than they are accustomed to: Rep. Jack O’Malley in HD-103 (Traverse City), for instance, now represents a 52-47 Biden district.
Races to watch: For the Democrats to flip the chamber, they’ll need to hold onto all of their current seats, which is no gimme, as they have incumbents on some really marginal turf. So keep an eye on Rep. Angela Witwer in HD-76 (South and West of Lansing), who has won her last two races by 4 points or less and sits in a 50-48 Biden district. And Glanville, the winner of that special election earlier this year, does not have a layup, either. She’s now running in the Grand Rapids-based HD-84, which did go 54-44 for Biden but only 51-47 for Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in the same election. Trump also narrowly carried it in 2016.
MICHIGAN SENATE: 22 R, 16 D (DEMOCRATS NEED 4 SEATS) | MAP
It has been, for many readers, a literal lifetime since the Democrats held majority in the Michigan State Senate: The last time the chamber was in the hands of Team Blue was in 1983, when Return of the Jedi, the last of the original Star Wars trilogy, was still in theaters. That could change this cycle, in no small part due to the new maps, and in no small part due to strong recruiting.
Democrats could, in theory, claim the majority based on four seats that are either open or have appointed GOP incumbents, all four of which would have been carried by Biden. Now, there are a ton of variables—some of those districts have leaned more Republican in other statewide races, and Democrats would still need to hold a few tough districts in their collection—but there’s no question Michigan is among the Democrats’ best offensive opportunities this cycle.
Races to watch: Any hope of a Democratic Senate majority rests on a couple of GOP-held districts in very different parts of the state. In SD-09, which straddles the Oakland and Macomb county lines, it is a battle of sitting state representatives, as Republican Rep. Michael Webber defends the open seat against Democratic Rep. Padma Kuppa. The terrain leans light red (Biden would have carried it by a handful of votes, but Republicans have narrowly been favored in the district downballot), but Kuppa has far outraised Webber.
Across the state in SD-30 (Grand Rapids), Republicans are fretting about a seat that is shifting beneath their feet. What was a 50-43 Trump district in 2016 became a 51-47 Biden seat in 2020, and appointed GOP Sen. Mark Huizenga has a hard race against Democratic state Rep. David LeGrand. Between the two of them, about $1.5 million has been spent. Also keep at least one eye on the Bay City and Saginaw-based SD-35, where an open seat in a Biden 51-48 district has led to about $1.5 million spent pretty evenly between Republican state Rep. Annette Glenn and her Democratic opponent, Bay City Commissioner Kristen McDonald Rivet.
MINNESOTA HOUSE: 70 d, 64 r (republicans NEED 4 seats) | MAP
Minnesota is what you might call a “low-key” swing state. It’s rarely a tossup in presidential elections (2016 was a notable exception), but at the statewide level, it’s often far more competitive. To wit: possession of the speaker’s gavel for the Minnesota House has passed back and forth between the two parties six times in the last three decades. Republicans are aiming for a seventh in 2022, and it’s a real possibility. (Thanks to Minnesota’s status as a rare state with split control of its legislature, the new maps were drawn by the courts, though they somewhat favor Republicans.)
Minnesota now does not look as blue as it did in 2018. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz holds a narrow lead over Republican rival Scott Jensen, which is a far cry from the easy double-digit win he enjoyed four years ago. While it also does not look like a red wave year, either (Walz appears to lead in the mid-to-high single digits), the Republicans don’t need much of a tailwind to bring this chamber home. One factor: The majority of the chamber is made up of open seats, owed to a spate of retirements, a host of House members seeking new environs, and a trio of Democratic incumbents who lost in primaries.
Races to watch: With such a narrow majority, the place to watch is probably those very touchy open-seat pickup opportunities for the Republicans. One such district is HD-11A, which covers a lot of purple turf to the south and west of Duluth. Democratic Rep. Mike Sundin retired after a very narrow win over Republican Jeff Dotseth two years ago, and Dotseth is back for 2022, taking on Democratic attorney Pete Radosevich. This is a district that went for Biden by less than one point.
Meanwhile, further south in the Andover/Coon Rapids-based HD-35B, Democrats are defending a Trump-to-Biden district that saw the current Democratic incumbent get redistricted into an adjacent state. Democrats are running a well-known local pol in state Sen. Jerry Newton, who is seeking a return to the House after a single term in the upper chamber. Republicans are countering with teacher Polly Matteson.
MINNESOTA SENATE: 36 Majority CAUCUS (34 R, 2 I), 31 D (democrats NEED 3 seats) | MAP
This chamber is one of the few offensive opportunities for the Democrats, but conquering it has been an absolute bear for them over the last several cycles. After losing the chamber despite winning more votes in 2016 (as noted earlier, a poor year for Democrats in the state), they’ve come within a single seat on more than one occasion. In 2020, they got to a 34-33 deficit (again despite winning more votes overall), only to see two upstate Democrats bolt the party a mere two weeks after the election and become independents (neither decided to run for election this year).
Will the Democrats finally counter two-plus cycles of frustration and reclaim the chamber? It’s not going to be easy. Given the lack of attractive GOP-held open seats (only one, SD-41 in and around Hastings, would have gone narrowly for Biden), make a majority here plausible but far from an even proposition.
Races to watch: If the Democrats can pull off the upset here, they will have to go through a pair of GOP incumbents in all probability. In SD-36 (eastern Ramsey and Anoka Counties), Republican Sen. Roger Chamberlain has rarely won with more than 53% in this suburban district that would have gone 54-44 for Biden. He faces former radio host turned teacher Heather Gustafson. In SD-37 (north and west of Minneapolis), longtime GOP Sen. Warren Limmer barely held on in 2020 in a seat he has held since the 1990s. The district, in its new configuration, is highly swingy (52-46 Biden, but Democrat Keith Ellison only got 43% in his 2018 attorney general race). Limmer will take on local NAACP president Farhio Khalif.
NEVADA ASSEMBLY: 26 D, 16 R (republicans NEED 5 seats) | MAP
Fears about the Nevada state legislature are largely founded on two prior elections: 2014 and 2020. The 2014 midterm, the last one under a Democratic president, was an absolutely unmitigated disaster for Democrats, as they lost every statewide race and both houses of the legislature for the first time since 1928. The most recent election in 2020 was underwhelming for the Democrats, at best, as Biden only matched Hillary Clinton's narrow victory margin in the state and Republicans picked off three Assembly seats and one Senate seat in an election year where Democrats were hoping for a supermajority in both chambers.
In 2022, the maps look mildly favorable for Democrats, who were able to draw new districts without GOP input. But both parties are pouring resources into the state, which suggests Republicans have at least some confidence that they can get to a majority on election night.
Races to watch: If two Democratic incumbents in potentially perilous seats survive, the math becomes very complicated for the GOP. In AD-35 (a 51-47 Biden seat in the southwestern suburbs of Las Vegas), Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow had a close shave in 2020, defeating Jaylon Calhoun 52-48. This time around, she faces a well-known challenger in Tiffany Jones, a local business executive who has run for the state legislature twice before. Meanwhile, a little further to the east in AD-21 (Green Valley), Democratic freshman Assemblywoman Elaine Marzola was a narrow winner in 2020 and now faces Republican Jon Petrick, a Henderson chiropractor.
NEVADA SENATE: 12 D, 9 r (republicans NEED 2 seats) | MAP
The Nevada Senate feels far more secure for the Democrats than the Assembly, even though the hill for Republicans to climb mathematically may appear less daunting. That’s because (a) the chamber is tiny (only 21 members!); (b) only half is up for election; and (c) the 2022 class is particularly good for the Democrats, as they only have one highly vulnerable seat and also have one legitimate pickup opportunity.
There is a path for the Republicans, but it is a muddy one, at best. They would have to hold a 52-46 Biden open seat in the southern end of Las Vegas, win that one at-risk Democratic seat, and then also pick off a Democratic incumbent in a 55-43 Biden district.
Races to watch: There are exactly three of them, as outlined above. Democrats have a genuinely challenging hold in SD-08 (Summerlin), where freshman Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop won 52-48 in 2018. This is not likely to be as good a year for Democrats as 2018 was, meaning this could be a rough race against Republican Joey Paulos. But Democrats also have a legitimate pickup opportunity in SD-12 (southern Las Vegas suburbs), where Democrat Julie Pazina takes on Republican Cheryl Arrington. Pazina came with 24 votes of winning a Senate seat in 2018 and has outraised Arrington by a better than 2-to-1 margin.
Even if Republicans can beat Dondero Loop and hold onto SD-12, they still will need to beat Melanie Schieble in SD-09 (Spring Valley, Southwest Las Vegas). Schieble won her previous race by a 56-44 margin, and the district went 55-43 for Biden. Republicans are running realtor Tina Brown, who has raised a fair amount of cash.
NEW MEXICO HOUSE: 45 D, 24 r, 1 I (republicans NEED 11 seats) | MAP
That the New Mexico House is of concern for the Democrats would have to be considered shocking. After all, Democrats are closer to a supermajority here than they are to losing control of the chamber, and like their counterparts in Nevada, they had total control over redistricting. But Republicans did seize the House for one term after the disastrous Democratic midterm of 2014, and that has made Democrats a bit skittish this time around, as well. (The state Senate is not up until 2024.)
By the way, that single unaffiliated seat is a rural district that went 75-23 for Trump. Phelps Anderson, the Republican-turned-Independent who occupies it, is retiring, so it might as well be considered a GOP seat.
Races to watch: Democrats have a number of incumbents in districts that seem to be trending away from them. A key example is Candie Sweetser in HD-32 (Lordsburg/Deming), who went from a 64-36 re-election victory in 2018 to a mere 54-46 win in 2020 as Trump carried her district 54-44. Another example, though considerably less bleak, is in HD-53 (east of Las Cruces), where Democratic Rep. Willie Madrid barely held on in 2020 by a 38 votes in a district where Hillary Clinton did marginally better than Biden. If both of those Democrats are in trouble on Election Night, it almost certainly means GOP net gains. If the bleeding extends to someone like Rep. Nathan Small in HD-36 (north of Las Cruces), who occupies a 53-45 Biden seat, that would be cause for considerable concern.
Other states to watch
The seven states below are less likely to see a chamber flip, but they’re on the radar for several reasons, ranging from unusual electoral strategies to states where the Democrats are trying to avoid oblivion.
Some might be surprised to not see Arizona on the first list, given the extremely small Republican majorities here. And, to be sure, it is not out of the realm of possibility for Democrats to score one or even both chambers here. But the problems are two-fold: Democrats they got no real help from this decade’s map (drawn by an independent commission where the tiebreaker sided with Republicans), which gives them precious few opportunities for pickups. And specifically in the House, Democrats are taking a bold gamble that could yield a win if it pays off but also means that they have to draw an inside straight.
In Arizona, both chambers use the same map, with each district electing one senator and two representatives. That’s led to the occasional deployment of what’s known as the “single-shot” strategy, where a party will run just one House candidate in a key district in the hopes that that candidate will win more support on their own than two candidates each would individually.
This actually worked for Democrat Judy Schwiebert in 2020, who won more votes than either of the two Republicans she ran against, meaning the third-place Republican lost. The downside to this approach is that it gives you a shot at only a single pickup, when in theory you might’ve had two. Democrats are trying this strategy in four plausible districts: HD-02, HD-04, HD-13, and HD-16. If it succeeds, they’d gain control of the Arizona House for the first time since 1966.
While the Republicans do not have outsized majorities in either chamber, only 60% is necessary for a supermajority in North Carolina. If the GOP can pick up three seats in the House and two in the Senate, they’d therefore be able to override any vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The House map, fortunately for Democrats, is an improvement for them, since two GOP-held seats were effectively disappeared and made into districts favoring the Democrats. But the new maps, which still favor the GOP after Democrats shabbily agreed to a one-side “compromise,” also created a lot of marginal districts (up to 10 in the Senate and 25 in the House) that could predominantly fall one way in even a modest wave election.
The intrigue in the Granite State is more about the extremely elastic (and absurdly large) House of Representatives, which has seen an average swing of 58 seats over each of the past 10 election cycles. Sometime they’re much larger: In 2010, 119 seats swung to the Republicans, only for 122 to revert back to the Democrats two years later. Given those wild gyrations, a move back toward Democrats is not out of the realm of possibility. On the flipside, even a modest GOP tailwind could net 50 seats for Republicans, who had the chance to gerrymander the lines for another decade after flipping both chambers in 2020.
The Senate is far more stable, and therefore, in this cycle, almost certainly less interesting. The GOP, which got to draw the new maps, starts with an automatic pickup (SD-16 was Republican enough that Democrats didn’t even file a candidate). So it’s hard, though not impossible, to cobble together a Democratic dozen here.
Oregon has not seen a Republican majority in either legislative chamber since 2006, and while it’s a longshot—especially since Democrats redrew the maps themselves—the GOP is expending resources here in the hopes of scoring the upset. Available polling data shows that Democrats have been struggling at all levels in Oregon, especially in the three-way race for governor.
In the House, the saving grace for Democrats might be three GOP-held open seats that would have been carried by Biden. But if Republicans manage to hold all three (keep an eye on HD-21, HD-32, and HD-53), they have enough offensive opportunities to make things interesting. On the Senate side, the Democrats’ majority seems secure, but they do have a couple of very nervy open-seat races in seats Trump won in 2020.
SENATE: 29 Majority CAUCUS (28 R, 1 I), 21 D | MAP
Pennsylvania has long been a source of frustration for Democrats. The state House flipped to the Republicans 12 years ago, just in time for them to gerrymander an impenetrable new map, while in the state Senate, the Democratic ride in the wilderness dates back to the fateful 1994 elections.
This time around, though, the state has much fairer maps because the state Supreme Court—which Democrats retook in 2015—appointed an independent-minded tiebreaker to Pennsylvania’s bipartisan redistricting commission. Republicans also have an anvil top of the ticket in the form of gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, giving Democrats hope that even if they can’t claim either chamber, they can chip away a significant part of the GOP majority. In the Senate, Republicans must defend three open seats that Attorney General Josh Shapiro (now running against Mastriano) carried in 2020. In the House, similarly, targets abound, but there may not be not quite enough of them to get the 12 seats necessary to score the upset.
SENATE: 28 D, 21 Minority caucus (20 R, 1 D) | MAP
Like Oregon, Washington is on the GOP radar as a potential upset possibility, fueled again in part by stronger-than-expected Republican challengers at the top of the ticket (in Washington, that would be U.S. Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley). But unlike its neighbor to the south, we had a reasonable look at the state of play just a couple months ago, courtesy of the states’ top-two primary in August.
At that time, Democrats were holding their own, and perhaps even in the mix to pick up a seat or two. However, and this is an important caveat, the primary was held at a time when the Democrats were in a relatively strong period electorally, post-Dobbs. To illustrate: In the primary, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray scored 52.2% of the vote, which led all Republicans combined by 11 points. But recent polling data shows Murray is only hitting those margins in the most optimistic surveys, and generally closer to 7 points up. So if the state has tightened, could the Republicans be looking at pickups? It certainly cannot be ruled out.
In Wisconsin, as is the case in North Carolina, the goal for Democrats here is to avoid the Republican gerrymanders creating legislative supermajorities, which would be able to circumvent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers if he wins his hotly contested race for re-election. The GOP needs five seats in the Assembly and just one in the Senate to reach the two-thirds mark in this evenly divided swing state.
The upper chamber looks headed in that direction, since Democrats are almost wholly playing defense, with few realistic targets and two tough holds (an open seat that Trump carried 54-44, and Sen. Jeff Smith’s seat, which runs 51-47 Trump). If the Democrats can somehow defy gravity and pull off the win in one of three Trump-leaning GOP-held seats (SD-05, SD-17, or SD-19), they could hold off the supermajority.
The Assembly may well be the last stand for Wisconsin Democrats, though. And unlike the Senate, there are some offensive opportunities here. Watch for how Democrats perform in two Democratic-held open seats that would have gone for Evers in 2018 but Trump in 2020 (AD-73 and AD-74). Also, if the Democrats have a logical pickup opportunity, it will be the open seat in AD-84, where Lu Ann Bird is trying to pick up an open seat for the Democrats that was 50-48 Biden.
We’ll be covering every key race in the 2022 midterms during our Nov. 8 election night liveblog at Daily Kos Elections, so please join us then.