What to watch in the high-stakes 2022 midterm elections

In the battle for Democrats to keep their majority in Congress and Republicans to gain wins in congressional and governor’s races, the 2022 midterms will showcase which party is able to extend its reach past the states it currently controls.

Hotly contested U.S. Senate and governor’s races in perpetual swing states like Pennsylvania have dominated the news cycle, from social media jabs back and forth between candidates Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz to Oz spending more than $20 million of his own money on his race.

Historic races in Vermont and North Carolina could smash the glass ceiling and elect the leader of Vermont’s state Senate, Becca Balint, as its first woman in Congress and former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley as the state’s first Black senator. She would be the only Black woman in the Senate.

It’s not only critical leadership positions up for grabs in swing states like Georgia and Arizona, issues like vote-by-mail and abortion all have come to the forefront of this midterms cycle — the result of leftover residue from the 2020 election and subsequent denial of the election results perpetrated by former President Donald Trump, who continues to tighten his influence on the GOP.


Data compiled by AP statehouse reporters and race callers in the AP’s Decision Notes series breaks down how each state votes, when votes will be counted and what candidates and issues are on the ballot.

For a look at all 50 states and the election outlook there, find it here.

Vote By Mail

The voting landscape has changed in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While 2020 expanded the use of mail-in voting across the country, it caused slow vote tallying in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia. A new law in Pennsylvania allocated $45 million to counties to help them handle the task of counting mail-in ballots to avoid a protracted post-election count.

Last year, Georgia Republicans mandated an ID for absentee voting, after a surge in mail ballots helped secure victories for Democrats in the presidential contest and twin U.S. Senate runoffs.

In the Maryland primary, state law blocked mail-in ballots from being counted until two days after Election Day. But the state’s highest court has since ruled that counties can start counting mail-ins before Election Day in the general election to avoid delays.

Abortion On The Ballot

California, Michigan and Vermont are all considering questions that would amend their state constitutions to establish some form of a right to abortion.

The Decision Notes explain that if voters chose to amend the Michigan state constitution, a 91-year-old state law banning abortion in all instances except to save the life of the mother would no longer be enforceable. A record number of people — over 750,000 — signed petitions to put the measure on the ballot after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The 2022 midterms will showcase which party is able to extend its control past its respective states as Democrats aim to keep their majority in Congress and Republicans seek inroads in congressional and governor’s races. Pictured: Voters at an early voting polling location at the Fiserv Forum arena, in Downtown Milwaukee on November 5, 2022.
(Sara Stathas for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Races To Keep An Eye On

Control of the Senate and House could go directly through Arizona as Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly attempts to win a full term after securing the last two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s seat in 2018. He faces a tough challenge from Trump-backed Republican Blake Masters.

Arizona Republicans backed by Trump — and who back his unfounded claims that he lost because of election fraud — are hoping to snag the governor’s office, secretary of state and attorney general.

One of the most closely watched races in the country is in Nevada. Democrats are trying to hold onto Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s seat in her contest against Republican Adam Laxalt. Laxalt is a steadfast Trump ally and has embraced falsehoods about the 2020 election.

Georgia’s senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is trying to win a full six-year term, and Georgia football icon and Republican challenger Herschel Walker could also determine the outcome of the Senate party breakdown.

But Walker has been embroiled in a scandal when two women alleged he encouraged and paid for their abortions. Walker has campaigned in absolute opposition to abortion, supporting one of the strictest statewide abortion bans in the country.

Trump’s backing of Walker and former Sen. David Perdue for governor against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is retribution for Kemp not going along with lies about the 2020 election being stolen.


North Carolina’s Republican three-term Rep. Ted Budd is one of many Trump-backed candidates this election cycle. Trump’s endorsement of Budd remains a crucial element of Budd’s strategy against Beasley, who has out-fundraised him and received an endorsement from former President Barack Obama.

Democratic-led Maryland will try to regain the governorship held by the departing Larry Hogan, who is only the second Republican in the state’s history to be reelected governor. The candidates for the governorship feature Democrat Wes Moore, who could be the state’s first Black governor against Trump-backed Republican Dan Cox.