Checking in on US Senate Races Before Election Day, Part 2

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #42 | By: Ian Milden | November 2, 2022

Header photo taken from: Scott Olson—Getty Images




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Senator Michael Bennet, second from left, speaking to constituents in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He is seeking a third full term in a state that has been trending Democratic.

Photo taken from: Rachel Woolf / The New York Times

Election Day is November 8th. This Brief will take a look at some of the Senate Races I previewed over the summer and early fall and provide some short updates on the state of those races.

Colorado – For a Republican to win in Colorado, they would have to win not only conservative voters, but also a significant share of unaffiliated voters. Republican Nominee Joe O’Dea tried doing this in the primary and won over an underfunded conspiracy theorist

Shortly after the primary, O’Dea got into a war of words with Trump, which may cost him votes from Trump’s supporters. Republicans didn’t make a significant investment in the state due to the unexpected expense in Ohio. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) should win reelection, though the margin might be closer than Democrats would prefer.

New Hampshire – Republicans held their primary in September and nominated Don Bolduc, a retired general known for appearances on Fox News. The types of statements that got Bolduc on Fox News don’t sit well with many of New Hampshire’s moderate voters. 

He’s been trying to backtrack on some of his more controversial statements on topics like the 2020 election and abortion in hopes that some voters have short memories. With the polls getting slightly tighter, a Super PAC with ties to the Heritage Foundation is spending money to help Bolduc. This is a closer race than Democrats hoped to have, but Bolduc is a flawed candidate. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) should still be favored to win reelection.

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The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, announced late last month that it had canceled nearly $10 million in television ads in Arizona, a sign that its leaders saw Masters had a slim chance of winning.

Photo taken from: WSAV-TV

Arizona – Blake Masters (R-AZ) was trailing significantly in most polls at the start of the General Election. As a result, the Senate Leadership Fund, the primary Super PAC supporting Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, canceled its plans to run ads in the state. The NRSC has reinvested some money into the race, but it hasn’t made up for the cuts made by the Super PAC or Masters’ fundraising difficulties. The national environmental trends and polling trends within Arizona for all statewide races have moved towards the Republicans in recent weeks. 

New Hampshire’s Republican governor described Don Bolduc as a “conspiracy theory extremist” just two months ago. But now, a week before Election Day, Gov. Chris Sununu is vowing to support him.

Photo taken from: The Associated Press

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Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) still leads narrowly in most polls (and often within the margin of error), and Masters still has a poor image among Arizona voters. I think Senator Kelly will still win as long as Democrats mail their ballots back, but I wouldn’t completely rule out Arizonans supporting Republicans in many state races this year.

Wisconsin – Mandela Barnes’ (D-WI) polling lead didn’t last long. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is now leading after spending on TV ads criticizing Barnes on crime

Democrats have not been able to invest enough to prevent the ads from having an effect. The general election campaign has not only harmed Barnes’ image, but according to the Marquette University Law School Poll, Johnson’s image has improved. If Democrats don’t defeat Senator Johnson this year, then that will likely prompt some difficult conversations within the party about strategic directions.

Florida – I didn’t give Democrats a very good chance of winning the Florida Senate Race when I previously wrote about this race. National and statewide Democrats haven’t invested a significant amount of money in Florida for this year’s statewide elections. Florida probably shouldn’t be considered a swing state until Democrats develop a better strategy to compete in statewide elections.

Utah – There are not many polls for this race. The Dan Jones and Associates poll has gathered new data about every other month. The most recent one I could find was from early October. It still shows Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in the lead, but unaffiliated candidate Evan McMullin has been slowly gaining support. 

A more recent poll from Emerson College shows Lee with a wider lead. Voter perceptions of McMullin appear to be worse in the Emerson College poll when compared to earlier polls, which suggests that his chances of pulling off an upset are still slim.

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