First 2022 Midterm Forecast (August): GOP Flips House, Dems Hold Senate

Now that most of the primaries are over and the parties have selected their nominees, the Texas Citizen Journal is releasing our first forecast for the 2022 midterm election. This model captures the state of the electorate as we believe it to be at this moment in time in early August, and will be updated monthly until November. The final forecast will be released the day before the election.

Right now, the Texas Citizen Journal forecast model shows Republicans making modest gains in the House: enough to regain control of the chamber, but by no means a red wave. The model also predicts the senate will remain tied 50-50, allowing Democrats to maintain control through Vice-President Kamala Harris’ tie breaking vote.


First, lets look at the House side. All the fundamentals should favor the GOP retaking the chamber. The president’s party almost always loses seats in the first midterm, and as narrow as the Democrat’s House majority currently is, they can’t afford to lose many seats. The House also tends to be somewhat more closely tied than statewide races to presidential approval numbers, which for President Joe Biden look absolutely abysmal. Although both parties are guilty of aggressive gerrymandering, Congressional maps still benefit the GOP slightly. Republican voters are also much more efficiently distributed across the country than Democrat voters, who are highly concentrated in urban enclaves. Add to all these factors voters’ anger at the current economy, inflation, and rising crime, and 2022 should be a very bad year for the party in power.

However, while Republicans should make modest gains in the House, they have thus far failed to capitalize on the current environment. Weak candidates, lethargic fundraising, and bad messaging are greatly lowering the ceiling of potential GOP pickups. The Democrat base also seems to be more energized than normal for a midterm year. There also just isn’t that much low-hanging fruit. Republicans won a lot of seats they were not expected to win in 2020, and gerrymandering has resulted in fewer competitive seats than every. Even in wave elections, massive swings in seats as in 1994 and 2010 are almost impossible under the current maps.

Democrats and Republicans are currently pretty much tied in generic ballot polling, which generally translates to a slight Republican majority for reasons outlined above. The Texas Citizen Journal currently projects the Republicans will gain 10 to 15 seats, and go into the next Congress with approximately 225 seats: a majority, but not a big one.


The Texas Citizen Journal currently projects the Senate to remain tied. Republicans will flip Nevada, and Democrats will flip Pennsylvania. All other states will remain in the same party’s hands. This of course effectively mean Democrats will maintain control of the upper chamber thanks to the vice-president’s tie breaking vote.

The 2022 midterms are giving off serious 2010 and 2012 vibes as far as the Senate is concerned. In both those cycles, Republicans should have flipped the Senate, however, they nominated bad candidates such as Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnel and threw away races they should have won. Likewise, in 2022, there are several states that are winnable where Republicans are currently struggling due to sub-optimal candidates, particularly Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. Candidate quality matters a lot more in Senate races than it does in House races. Former President Donald Trump’s role here should not be minimized. In many of these primaries he endorsed the candidate who would be weaker in the general election.

This cycle, there are 12 states that are at least somewhat competitive. However, only five are truly toss-ups. Although the five toss-ups could realistically be won by either party, the model does forecast which party is more favored to win.

Let’s get the likely states out of the way real quick before we move on to the more competitive races:

Likely D: New Hampshire, Colorado, Washington

Republicans really blew a prime pickup opportunity in New Hampshire this year. Incumbent Senator Maggie Hassan barely won her last election, and if Republicans had nominated the extremely popular GOP Governor Chris Sununu, they would have been favored to win this seat. However, Sununu declined to run, opting to run for re-election as governor instead. The GOP candidates who did run have very little name ID and will be facing an uphill battle against the incumbent Hassan. Colorado has become an increasingly safe blue state in recent years, however, Republicans picked a very strong candidate for senate here this cycle: John O’Dea. O’Dea is relatively moderate and is running a good campaign. He has distanced himself from Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the state. However, it’s still Colorado, and incumbent Senator Michael Bennett is favored to win. Washington is surprisingly competitive this cycle. Incumbent Democrat Senator Patty Murray is showing signs of weakness, and Republicans nominated a very formidable challenger in Tiffany Smiley. Washington is definitely a steep climb for a Republican, but if anyone can do it, it’s Smiley.

Likely R: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is an electoral juggernaut and is heavily favored to win re-election in the Sunshine State. North Carolina is one of the few competitive states where Republicans actually nominated a strong candidate: Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC). The Democrats also nominated a fairly strong candidate, former State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, however, given the national environment and North Carolina’s Republican leanings, Budd is the favorite to win. In Ohio, Hillbilly Elegy author and GOP nominee J.D. Vance is not a bad candidate, but he’s not the strongest candidate Republicans could have put up. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), however, is one of the strongest Democrat candidates this cycle. Ryan is a relative moderate with working-class appeal, and has been polling very well. However, Ohio has been trending pretty solidly Republican, and despite Ryan’s strength, he likely will not be able to overcome the partisan disadvantage. Utah has one of the most interesting senate races this year. The Democrats chose not to nominate a candidate to challenge Republican incumbent Senator Mike Lee, instead throwing their support behind an independent candidate: Never-Trump conservative Evan McMullin. Lee is a close ally of Trump, which could hurt him in Utah. Trump has always underperformed in Utah, as his vulgarity and offends the moral sensibilities of the Mormon community. However, Utah is still a very red state, and McMullin will have a hard time unseating Lee.

Toss-ups: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada

Control of the Senate will most likely come down to the five seats that are truly the most competitive: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. In theory, Republicans should have had a good chance to win all of these states, however, they are blowing their chances in a few of them by nominating weak candidates.

Wisconsin: Lean R Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is well known for his controversial and often baffling statements. However, those who have bet against him in the past have been proven wrong twice now. He has an uncanny ability to pull victory from the jaws of defeat in Wisconsin, and he does start with the advantage of incumbency. He has also been handed a gift by Democrats who have cleared the field for far left Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes. Barnes is a GOP oppo researcher’s dream, having endorsed far-left positions such as de-funding the police. Even though Wisconsin is a very close state, Johnson is the slight favorite.

Pennsylvania: Lean D Pennsylvania is a state where Republicans really missed an opportunity. Senator Pat Toomey, who is retiring, would have been a safe bet had he run for re-election. The primary front runner was initially Sean Parnell, who had to drop out due to domestic violence accusations. Of the remaining candidates, banker Dave McCormick was the safer choice, however, Pennsylvania Republicans decided instead to nominate Trump’s endorsed candidate: celebrity TV Dr. Mehmet Oz. Since winning the nomination, polls have shown Oz running consistently behind the Democratic candidate, Lt. Governor John Fetterman. Fetterman is an interesting candidate who hearkens back to the union hall socialist and is basically a biker gang version of Bernie Sanders. Democrats are hoping Fetterman’s rough hewn persona will appeal to blue collar voters in the western part of the state. Oz has his vulnerabilities: he has been a liberal most of his life, and the GOP base doesn’t seem to trust him yet. It is possible that as the election gets closer, the base will coalesce more behind Oz, and the polls will tighten. However, as things stand now, the advantage lies with Biker Bernie.

Arizona: Lean D Maybe it’s something in the water, but Arizona Republicans are just a special kind of crazy. The GOP could have nominated the very popular and successful Governor Doug Ducey, however, Ducey declined to run, knowing Trump would sabotage him. As it turned out, Trump sabotaged the next most electable candidate, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, endorsing Peter Thiel protege Blake Masters instead. Masters is a first time candidate with a history of controversial statements. He is also going to be weighed down by association with the GOP’s wacky gubernatorial nominee, Kari Lake, who is going to lose handily. Arizona Republicans have completely lost touch with the general electorate and reality itself, and are intent on complete self-immolation. Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Kelly is mediocre, however he will likely win because Arizona Republicans are insane.

Nevada: Lean R Things are actually looking pretty good for Republicans in Nevada. Republicans chose a very strong candidate in former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who comes from a storied Nevada political dynasty with deep roots. Nevada has a large number of working class whites and Hispanics, two groups that have shifted towards the GOP. Add to that the fact that the formidable Reid machine is gone and Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto could be in real real trouble.

Georgia: Lean D Finally we come to Georgia. In the Texas Citizen journal model, Georgia is the tipping point state. Whoever wins Georgia will most likely win control of the Senate. This should be an easy pickup for Republicans: GOP Governor Brian Kemp is on track to sail to re-election against election denier Stacey Abrams, and Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock’s far-left voting record is out of step with a state that is probably still more red than purple. However, it appears that GOP nominee Herschel Walker is not nearly as good at running for office as he was at playing football. He has a colorful personal past and has made several gaffes on the campaign trail. Georgia is still an extremely competitive state, however, it is shaping up to be a prime example of Republicans throwing away a prime pickup opportunity by nominating a problematic candidate.

Published by Reagan Reed

Reagan is a journalist and educator from East Texas. He has been involved in numerous campaigns, worked at the Texas Legislature, and covered Texas politics for years as a journalist.

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