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Senate races: an early peek at likely vulnerable seats in 2022

Of 34 seats that will be on the ballot, Washington Post columnist David Byler thinks there are seven that start out “in play” for possible flipping. Of those, four are currently held by Democrats and three by Republicans.

U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol Building
REUTERS/Jim Bourg

As you know, the presidency won’t be on the ballot in 2022, but control of Congress will be. As always, every House seat will be on the ballot, plus 34 Senate seats.

Given the current 50-50 makeup of the Senate, and the current 218-212 Dem advantage in the House (plus five current vacancies), control of either or both houses are in play.

It would be foolish to speculate overmuch on elections that are 18 months away, and I certainly won’t make any predictions. But it’s hard not to start to take a peek at the lay of the land, especially on the Senate side, where it matters a great deal which seats are up (unlike the House, where every seat is always up). And, right now, it matters even more so, because a net change of a single seat in favor of Republicans would flip control of the Senate with likely huge implications for President Joe Biden’s agenda in the second half of his current term.

The good news for Democrats is that far more Republican Senate seats are on the 2022 ballot, by a margin of 20-14 (which, theoretically, means more chances for Dem pickups). But, obviously, given the domination of many states by one party or the other, the next question is how many of those 34 seats will be “in play.”

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An  overview of the Senate battlegrounds by Washington Post columnist David Byler suggests that, notwithstanding the much bigger number of Republican seats on the ballot, he thinks there are seven of the 34 seats that start out “in play” for possible flipping. Of those, by fluke, four are currently held by Democrats and three by Republicans.

I’ll tell you briefly where they are, and link to the full piece below. But before I do, allow me to say that there is something crazy and wrong about our system that creates these weird and, one might say, random pressure points.

Because of the rotation of Senate elections, voters in three of the four biggest-population states (California, New York, Texas) and the best state (Minnesota) will have nothing to say in 2022 about which party will control the U.S. Senate, while states with tiny populations (New Hampshire and Nevada, for example) may decide the matter of Senate control for the rest of us.

I know we’re used to this system, but if we’d just arrived from Mars or, for that matter, Sweden or Norway, we would shake our heads in disbelief at the weird rules of a system that would create such a situation.

Anyway, according to Byler’s current ability to anticipate where the key Senate races will be, here’s the list and which party currently holds the seat that happens to be on the ballot:

Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire and Georgia (and in those four, the seat that’s up is currently occupied by a Democrat) plus Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where the seat that’s up is currently occupied by a Republican. If that list turns out to be correct, voters in those seven seats will have something to say about which party controls the Senate, and the overwhelming majority of the country will have little or nothing to say about it.

I won’t go into more detail. You can follow the link at the bottom for the full Post piece. But it’s an opportunity to reflect on how random and arbitrary (my word choice) and stupid (my word) and pretty darned undemocratic (my word) some of the features of our system can be.

Oh yeah, as I promised, you can access the full list of those states that have a 2022 Senate election, and those that Byler rates as “in play,” right here.