After two long years, we’re finally here. The 2022 midterms election cycle ends on Tuesday night.
Results in 35 Senate elections, 39 Gubernatorial races, all 435 Congressional contests and down-ballot battles from every state will begin to flood into newsrooms across the world, including here at Decision Desk HQ.
So which races should you be watching? Well, all of them. Of course, that can be quite the daunting task. Therefore, I’ve created this guide on the best contests to watch as Election Night unfolds. Now, let’s jump into it!
Georgia: Raphael Warnock vs. Herschel Walker
Georgia: Stacey Abrams vs. Brian Kemp
In the past, all eyes tended to converge first on Florida. At a time when Republicans are steadily gaining ground in the Sunshine State, however, that attention is migrating north to Georgia, as the Peach State is home to high-profile Senate and Gubernatorial races.
If Gov. Brian Kemp scores an early call it will be an exceptional sign for the GOP, given that winners have to garner a majority to avoid a run-off in Georgia. Meanwhile, observers will be searching the early Georgia Senate returns for tea-leaves on how other Senate races might shake out.
As for the House, attention will gravitate towards the Commonwealth of Virginia, where a trio of Democratic Congresswomen will seek to hold on amidst a possible red wave. The outcome of these three contests will color how analysts view the race for the House over the next few hours.
North Carolina: Cheri Beasley vs. Ted Budd
Ohio: Tim Ryan vs. J.D. Vance
The dynamic in Ohio is simple: the longer it takes to call the Senate race, the better for Democrats. If author J.D. Vance easily scores an early victory against Rep. Tim Ryan, that would indicate that polls once again overestimated Democrats and a red wave is forming. Conversely, a surprise upset for Ryan would suggest that the Democratic dream of holding the House and expanding their majority in the Senate is actually possible.
For all the attention on Ohio’s Senate race, though, Democrats likely have a far better chance in North Carolina. Perhaps the party has just gotten so used to having its heart broken by the Tar Heel State that they no longer believe victory is really possible there.
Florida: Val Demings vs. Marco Rubio
New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan vs. Don Bolduc
Pennsylvania: John Fetterman vs. Mehmet Oz
Florida: Charlie Crist vs. Ron DeSantis
Maine: Janet Mills vs. Paul LePage
Pennsylvania: Josh Shapiro vs. Doug Mastriano
This crowded hour is likely when we’ll see Florida finally get its moment in the spotlight. The Sunshine State counts its votes quickly, so Gov. DeSantis and Sen. Rubio should be declared the winners soon after the polls close in the Panhandle.
My eyes, however, will be focused on the Keystone State, where Democrats are hoping Josh Shapiro scores his own early call. Such a development would be a prosperous sign for John Fetterman’s hopes in the Senate race, as well as embattled Democratic Congressional incumbents like Matt Cartwright and Susan Wild.
Another state that will be intriguing to watch at this time is New Hampshire, where the Senate race was trending towards Democrats over the past several weeks. If Sen. Hassan is struggling, then that would be a tremendous early sign for Republicans.
Arizona: Mark Kelly vs. Blake Masters
Colorado: Michael Bennet vs. Joe O’Dea
Iowa: Michael Franken vs. Chuck Grassley
Wisconsin: Mandela Barnes vs. Ron Johnson
Arizona: Katie Hobbs vs. Kari Lake
Kansas: Laura Kelly vs. Derek Schmidt
Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer vs. Tudor Dixon
Minnesota: Tim Walz vs. Scott Jensen
New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham vs. Mark Ronchetti
New York: Kathy Hochul vs. Lee Zeldin
Texas: Beto O’Rourke vs. Greg Abbott
Wisconsin: Tony Evers vs. Tim Michels
The Empire State will be the place to watch at 9:00. There’s been some late-breaking Democratic panic about the Governor’s race there, not to mention the new map that’s put several Congressional Dems in jeopardy. Given that New York City is the media capital of the U.S., an impressive showing by Republicans in this state will be especially amplified.
Elsewhere, Michigan looms as another major bellwether, as Democratic star Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is favored to win a second term. An upset there would be a gigantic victory for Republicans, who are also seeking to rack up Congressional victories down-ballot.
Finally, there’s the always crucial state of Wisconsin, where Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson are locked into incredibly tight re-election battles. I’ll definitely be keeping a Wisconsin tab open on Election Night to watch which way the ultimate toss-up state goes.
Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto vs. Adam Laxalt
Utah: Evan McMullin vs. Mike Lee
Nevada: Steve Sisolak vs. Joe Lombardo
I’ve said it before, we’re all going to spend the early hours of November 9th watching to see what happens in Nevada. The state’s got it all: toss-up races for the Senate and Governor, as well as three competitive Congressional contests. Nevada will be the tipping point state for whichever party can prevail there.
Meanwhile, Evan McMullin is once again trying to pull off an upset in Utah and throw a wrench into the GOP’s plans. In 2016, McMullin ran for President in the hopes of preventing a Trump victory. Yet, despite garnering over 21% of the vote in his home state of Utah, McMullin’s plot failed. This year he’s running against Republican Sen. Mike Lee as an Independent, with the backing of the Utah Democratic Party. Once again it appears that Lee will succeed at irritating the GOP, but fail to beat them at the ballot box.
Washington: Patty Murray vs. Tiffany Smiley
Oregon: Tina Kotek vs. Christine Drazan vs. Betsey Johnson
The battle for the House majority may very well come down to California, and if it does we won’t know whose won for quite awhile. The dream Democratic scenario of holding onto the House requires a stellar performance for the party out in California. The issue, of course, is that the Golden State is usually quite slow in counting their votes.
Nevertheless, by this time in the night, we may well know whether the Republicans have successfully flipped the lower chamber. If the networks have made just such a call at this time, then it would suggest that a red wave has indeed swept the nation and it may also be strong enough to take the Senate too.
Additionally, expect the three-way battle for the Governorship in Oregon to keep Democrats up all night. They’ll be hoping that independent Betsey Johnson fails in her attempt to spoil the contest for Democratic nominee Tina Kotek.
Finally, we’ll wrap up the night in Alaska, where Democratic Congresswoman Mary Peltola appears to be a star in the making. The Dem won a special election to replace long-time Rep. Don Young back in August, and she’s impressed political observers in the months since. As a result, should Peltola become one of the final victims of an enormous red wave on Tuesday, it will be an especially poignant reminder to Democrats of all they’ve lost.