The most important midterm elections to watch ahead of Election Day

Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis  (Getty/EPA)
Left to right: Adam Laxalt, Catherine Cortez Masto, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, and Ron DeSantis (Getty/EPA)

Election Day is nearly upon us.

Republicans hope that Americans’ frustration with inflation and the economy, as well as rising crime, will obfuscate their concerns about the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade.

Conversely, Democrats hope to make abortion a centrepiece of the election, but also hope to point “MAGA Republicans” as threats to democracy and highlight the January 6 insurrection.

Here are the most important elections to watch this cycle.

Nevada Senate

Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have campaigned for Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Las Vegas, as if to underline just how salient the Silver State will be in the final makeup of the Senate.

Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in the Silver State since 2012. President Joe Biden won the state by about the same margin Hillary Clinton did but his approval rating remains low in the state at 44 per cent, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll.

A New York Times/Siena College poll shows that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina Senator, is beating former attorney general Adam Laxalt by 0.4 percentage points, making it a virtual tie. A Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights poll showed Ms Cortez Masto with a two-point lead, well within the margin of error.

At the same time, polls have historically missed the mark in Nevada. Therefore, the best barometer to see who is ahead is early voting, which ended this weekend. Democrats have a slight lead in it. But the question is whether that lead, specifically in Clark County where Las Vegas is located, will be enough if more Republicans turn out on Election Day.

The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the state’s hospitality industry when plenty of Latinos are becoming more disillusioned with the Democratic Party. All of this makes Nevada the most likely Senate seat to flip.

Former president Donald Trump traveled to Nevada last month to shore up support for his preferred candidate. Ms Cortez Masto for her part has criticised Mr Laxalt for promoting the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Senate

Both parties made a final push to make the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey move in their direction this weekend. Former president Donald Trump campaigned in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for Republican nominee and television physician Mehmet Oz. Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama and Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison held a rally in Pittsburgh for Democratic nominee John Fetterman in Pittsburgh. Afterward, Mr Obama and Mr Fetterman headed to Philadelphia to rally with President Joe Biden and Attorney General Josh Shaprio, Democrats’ nominee for governor.

Democrats have sought to paint Dr Oz as an outsider who lives in New Jersey, and Mr Biden said “ I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz lived in Pennsylvania and I moved away when I was 10 years old.” A Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll last week also shows Dr Oz suffers from high unfavorability ratings. In addition, Oprah Winfrey, who catapulted Dr Oz to stardom by featuring him on her show, said she would support Mr Fetterman if she lived in Pennsylvania.

Conversely, Republicans have lambasted Mr Fetterman as being weak on crime, citing his record as lieutenant governor. Shortly before the primary in May, Mr Fetterman suffered a stroke and many Democrats feared his performance in the sole debate last month might hurt his chances. A Monmouth University poll released last week showed it had minimal impact on voters’ choice. But an Emerson College poll showed that half of voters said his debate performance worsened their opinion of Mr Fetterman.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Georgia Senate

The Georgia Senate race entered centre-stage last month afterThe Daily Beast reported that Republican nominee Herschel Walker reportedly paid for a woman’s abortion despite his vocal opposition to it on the campaign trail. During an interview with NBC News, Mr Walker acknowledged that he wrote the check but denied it was for an abortion. Last week, another woman came forward and alleged that Mr Walker drove her to have an abortion after carrying on a years-long affair with her. The woman, who went by Jane Doe, told NBC News that “his wife’s family and powerful people around that I would not be safe and that the child would not be safe.”

None of the stories, which Mr Walker has vehemently denied, have deterred Republicans from supporting Mr Walker as he challenges Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. The two squared off in only one debate this month, wherein Mr Walker accused Mr Warnock of being a rubber stamp for Mr Biden’s agenda. Meanwhile, Mr Warnock criticised Mr Walker, a former University of Georgia running back, of pretending to be a police officer, which led to Mr Walker flashing an honorary badge he received. Polling has been mixed, with an Atlanta Journal Constitution poll showing Mr Walker leading Mr Walker by three points but the Times/Siena College poll showing Mr Warnock leading by three points. If neither candidate wins a majority of the vote, the race will go into a runoff.

Arizona governor

Many polls have shown Republican nominee Kari Lake beating Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in Arizona’s gubernatorial campaign. But a Fox News poll shows the contest is a one-point race. Ms Lake has robustly parroted Mr Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen, while Ms Hobbs became a target of threats as she oversaw the election.

But many Democrats worry Ms Hobbs has fumbled her chances to flip Arizona’s governorship after she refused to debate Ms Lake, a decision she defended on CNN last week, saying she did not want to give Ms Lake a platform to spout election denialism. The race could determine whether a Republican like Ms Lake could defy the will of the people if the state votes for a Democrat and refuse to certify the election results in favor of a Republican.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arizona Senate

In 2020, Senator Mark Kelly won a special election to complete the term of the late Senator John McCain and outran Mr Biden when he won the state. Now he is seeking a full term in a state that is becoming more purple, but Mr Biden’s approval lags.

Mr Kelly has released an ad saying he supports closing gaps in the US-Mexico Border, saying he stands “up to the left when they want to defund the police, and I stand up to the right when they want a national abortion ban,” before adding, “when Joe Biden gets it wrong, I call him out.”

Mr Kelly is running against venture capitalist and Peter Thiel protege Blake Masters. Most polls show Mr Kelly, a retired astronaut and prolific fundraiser, leads the race. Mr Kelly has hit Mr Masters in their debate for also erasing parts of his website about the “big lie.” Mr Masters, for his part, has tried to tie Mr Kelly to Mr Biden.

Florida and Texas governor

Republican incumbent Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas caused a nationwide stir as they sent immigrants and refugees to Democratic areas of the country as a means to criticise the Biden administration’s policies regarding the US-Mexico border. But despite criticism from Democrats, both men are in a strong position to win re-election. A strong performance by Mr DeSantis, who has become a right-wing hero after he kept the state mostly open during the Covid-19 pandemic, could position him well to run for president in a 2024 Republican primary.

While Democrat Beto O’Rouke repeatedly criticised Mr Abbott for his stances on guns and abortion in their debate and on the campaign trail, polling showsthat Mr Abbott consistently leads Mr O’Rourke many voters rank the economy as the biggest issue followed by the Texas-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Mr DeSantis and Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor-turned-Democratic congressman, debated last week. While Mr DeSantis holds a double-digit lead, he refused to answer a question from Mr Crist asking whether he would serve a full four-year term.

But former president Donald Trump, one of Mr DeSantis’s early political benefactors, took a swipe at Mr DeSantis this weekend when he cited a poll showing him leading a hypothetical contest, calling the governor “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

Wisconsin Senate

Wisconsin Democrats called in the big guns to salvage their chances to flip Wisconsin’s Senate race: Former president Barack Obama campaigned Milwaukee late last month to stump for Senate nominee Mandela Barnes, delivering a barn-burner of a speech hitting Mr Johnson for his stance on social se Social Security. Mr Barnes squared off in two debates this month Mr Barnes tried to paint Mr Johnson as an extremist for minimising the January 6 riot and trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, as well as his position on abortion.

But Republicans have pilloried the Democratic lieutenant governor for being weak on crime and accusing him of supporting defunding the police. A Marquette University Law School poll showed Mr Johnson leading by two points.