(CNN)Congress is out of session with lawmakers back home for the holiday recess — a traditional time for fireworks, parades, and yes, politicking.
The fight for control of the evenly divided Senate will be the most dramatic showdown of 2022, and based on the candidates who have jumped in so far — and those who are expected to — there are a few changes to this month’s ranking of the Senate seats most likely to flip partisan control.
Pennsylvania — an open-seat race in a state that President Joe Biden carried in 2020 — remains the most likely to flip. But four other states have moved around slightly.
The top 10 Senate seats most likely to flip are based on CNN’s reporting and fundraising data, as well as historical data about how states and candidates have performed. As the cycle heats up, polling and advertising spending data will also become factors. Our ranking first published in March, was updated in April and again in May.
Two other Biden states are trading places, with New Hampshire leapfrogging above Nevada. It’s true that Biden carried the Granite State by a wider margin, but the potential GOP candidate options there are enough to move it above the Silver State for now. Of course, that could change if two big name Republicans in New Hampshire pass on the race.
Two Trump states are also switching spots. Florida is now above Ohio in terms of likelihood of flipping. Democrats have done better recently at the presidential level in Florida than they have in Ohio, and that’s all the more relevant now that Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Democrats already had a candidate in Ohio — Rep. Tim Ryan — but the increasingly red state is tougher terrain for the party. However, this is fluid — it’s still possible that the messy GOP primary in the Buckeye State will be just the opening Democrats need.
Ohio is a prime example of how former President Donald Trump continues to hold enormous sway over the GOP, with Republican Senate candidates competing for the attention of his supporters at his rally in the state late last month. Trump’s endorsement may not be enough to force other candidates to drop out (see North Carolina), but the idea of running without his backing in a GOP primary does seem to be enough to keep some candidates from jumping in (see Georgia).
The start of July marks the beginning of a new fundraising period, which means more candidates are likely to launch their campaigns, having waited until the end of the second quarter so as not to report a lower total from an incomplete quarter.
Check back here for CNN’s next ranking, which will be updated after second quarter fundraising reports are filed later this month.
Incumbent: Republican Pat Toomey (retiring)
Pennsylvania — where GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is not running for another term — remains the seat most likely to flip, in large part, because it’s an open seat in a state that Biden carried last fall. And while this race may come down to whatever the national environment looks like next year, Democrats regard it as their top pick up opportunity — even if they don’t yet know who their candidate is going to be. An already big field could get even more crowded with Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb thought to be closely eying the race. At least two potential candidates, fellow Reps. Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan, did take themselves out of the running. EMILY’s List, the pro-abortion rights powerhouse, backed Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh. The group is often a powerful player in Democratic primaries, including in another Democratic Senate primary here in 2016. The biggest name, however, remains Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the progressive former mayor of Braddock and a big fundraiser. Most of the Republican sparring has been between Army veteran Sean Parnell, who ran and lost against Lamb last year, and Jeff Bartos, a wealthy businessman who loaned his campaign $400,000 during the first quarter.
Incumbent: Democrat Raphael Warnock
Republicans are eager to redeem their trifecta of recent losses in Georgia. But they’re still in a waiting game when it comes to who will avenge the loss to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who’s now running for a full six-year term. That’s because Herschel Walker, encouraged by Trump to run, continues to have a freezing effect on the field. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black announced his candidacy in early June, becoming one of the most prominent candidates so far, while other Republicans have been reluctant to jump into the race if they know someone else will have Trump’s backing. Former Rep. Doug Collins, for example, already passed on a run. Walker, who lives in Texas, teased a campaign with a June 17 video of him revving the engine of a car with Peach State license plates (in a garage). “I’m getting ready,” the former NFL running back said. Trump said in a radio interview last week that Walker told him he’s decided to run. GOP strategists, however, are nervous about a risky candidate jeopardizing a must-win seat. Other Republicans are still testing the waters. Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost to Warnock in the January runoff, recently tweeted about meeting with Trump. And she met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, telling CNN in mid June, “I haven’t ruled it out.” Rep. Buddy Carter, who’s friends with Walker, is waiting to see what Walker does before making a decision. While everyone waits on Walker, national Republicans are not wasting time attacking one of their top targets. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has hit Warnock on TV for supporting the For the People Act, the sweeping voting and elections bill they dub “the welfare for politicians plan” (because of a public financing provision).
Incumbent: Republican Ron Johnson
GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is keeping everyone guessing — will he run for a third term? His indecision could be putting a possible successor at a disadvantage if he decides not to run. Johnson is the only Republican potentially running for reelection in a state Biden carried last year, so the seat is a top target for Democrats, regardless of whether he runs or not. Given some of the disinformation and conspiracy theories Johnson has peddled about the coronavirus and vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection, Wisconsin is the rare state where Democrats may feel more confident running against a two-term incumbent than they would an unknown Republican. They’ve got a handful of decent candidates, with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes making moves too.
Incumbent: Democrat Mark Kelly
Republicans are no longer without candidates to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who is running for a full six-year term after winning last fall. Several contenders have recently jumped in the race, including Attorney General Mark Brnovich, with others still considering. That’s a relief to party operatives who feared that without Gov. Doug Ducey running, they’d be left scrambling in one of their top pick-up opportunities. But Democrats are gleefully anticipating a messy primary, where Republicans are forced to cater to the Trump base (and show support for a partisan-driven audit), only to have to make a quick pivot to a general election audience next fall. Still, Republicans believe Kelly, an astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, is beatable — despite his compelling personal story and impressive fundraising. That’s because he’ll have a voting record this time — and the national party is already trying to use that against him. Republicans are also using the state’s other Democratic senator, moderate Kyrsten Sinema, as a foil to try to make Kelly look too liberal. “Stand with Senator Sinema against the liberal partisans,” blared one recent ad about the filibuster from the outside GOP-aligned group One Nation.
5. North Carolina
Incumbent: Republican Richard Burr (retiring)
The biggest news in North Carolina was Trump’s surprise endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Burr. Trump did it on stage at the state GOP convention just minutes after his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, said she was passing on the race. Budd, a gun store and range owner, emerged from a 17-way primary in 2016, winning his House seat with the backing of the Club for Growth, which is supporting him in this race, too. But Trump’s endorsement isn’t clearing the field in this race. Former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker, who were both in the crowd when Trump made his announcement, are still running. On the Democratic side, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has the backing of EMILY’s List. But state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith are still running too.
6. New Hampshire
Incumbent: Democrat Maggie Hassan
First-term Sen. Maggie Hassan is still without a top tier challenger, but this race moves up one spot on the list. Republicans know exactly who they want to run here — and even if he doesn’t do it, the GOP may have a back up. Gov. Chris Sununu had originally said he’d make a decision after the end of the legislative session in June, but he seems to have pushed back his timeline, telling “Good Morning New Hampshire” last month, “I won’t make a decision for a really long time.” He does have time — Hassan, in her last run, didn’t announce until October 2015 — and unlike some oth
The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022
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