After the 2020 election, Republicans lost their slim 53-47 lead in the Senate, surrendering three seats and the tie breaking vote of the vice president. Now five incumbents have announced that they will not seek reelection in 2022 (https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/542447-wave-of-senate-retirements-puts-gop-ranks-on-defense). Included in this group is Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) (held office since 2010), Sen. Rob Portman (OH) (held office since 2010), Sen. Richard Shelby (AL) (held office since 1986, switched parties in 1994), Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) (held office since 2010), and Sen. Richard Burr (NC) (held office since 2004). Republicans currently hold 20 of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs in 2022.
While the seats in Ohio, Alabama, and Missouri seem relatively safe, several other spots are located in battleground states where Biden took narrow victories last time around. The 2020 election saw traditionally red states flip to blue in both the Senate races and the presidential race. This could pose a significant threat if Republicans can’t find a way to invigorate its base.
Another key question facing GOP leadership will come during primaries. Since former President Trump was elected in 2016, the Republican party has shifted in his favor. New challengers hope to unseat long held positions in favor of Trump loyal candidates. This was further asserted earlier this year during CPAC, with Trump and his supporters taking up most of the schedule. Many within the party are hoping to bring in fresh faces, continuing Trump’s mantra, “Drain the swamp”. Former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is considering running 2022. He said, “It’s becoming harder to defend incumbency than to say you got new ideas from outside D.C. The days of staying so long are past due. You do need some experience. You don’t want it all to happen at once, but rotation is good.” Senator Ted Cruz (TX) has been calling for term limits on Congress for the past year, however it is unlikely that that will become a reality.
First term presidents often lose seats during the first midterm election. Will Republicans continue this trend in 2022, or has Biden’s recent success shifted the country in favor of Democrats for the foreseeable future?
Pictured: Sen. Blunt, Sen. Portman, Sen. Shelby