Midterm Election Odds: The Race For U.S. Senate Includes Herschel Walker

Written By Evan Scrimshaw on June 8, 2021
midterm election odds

One of the most highly anticipated aspects of 2022 midterms in the US is the fact that the Senate is genuinely in play in midterm election odds, and control of the chamber could go either way – at least if you believe the markets.

Right now on PredictIt, Democrats are 51 cents to win control of the chamber, and the GOP are 49 cents, basically suggesting a tossup. There are reasons to think both sides could find themselves ahead after 2022, and the market prices suggest that those arguments are finely balanced. Are they?

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The arguments for the GOP gaining the chamber are simple – they need to gain only 1 seat to do it, and both 2010 and 2014 – the last two midterms with a Democratic President in office – saw substantial seat losses for Democrats. Indeed, most midterms have seen the party of the President lose seats in the Senate. And, again, the GOP just needs to gain one seat.

The counterpoint to that is that of the last six midterms, the out of office party failed to make Senate gains three times – 1998, 2002, and 2018.

Editor’s Note: Check out the latest 2024 US President odds here.

Despite a very favorable nation in 2018, Democrats lost two seats net, because the Senate map that was up that year was full of Democratic Senators in Republican states. The map counteracted the historical tendency for the party of the President to do badly, which brings me to how Democrats could win the chamber. There are seven core, battleground states this time around. Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire are seats Democrats have to defend. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are seats where the GOP have to hold its ground.

Let’s go through those states.

Democratic Held Seats

Remember, Democrats just need to hold those four states, no matter what happens in the other three states.

Nevada

We can start with Nevada, where the GOP can’t get their preferred candidate to run and where Democrats have a Hispanic incumbent who will be able to outrun Biden’s margins with Hispanic voters from 2020. Nevada is highly unlikely to flip, an assessment shared by Jon Ralston, the ever accurate and reliable Nevada politics guru.

At the time of publish, Democrats are priced at 64 cents at PredictIt for Nevada Senate midterm election odds. That’s equal to a -178 favorite in sports betting.

Arizona

To the south, Mark Kelly is up for re-election just two years after being elected to finish the term of late Senator John McCain. Kelly just outran Biden by 2% in this state which is trending towards Democrats quickly – with Democrats having flipped two Senate seats and the state’s 11 Electoral College votes in just two cycles. The Arizona GOP are lacking any prospect of a high profile, star candidate to run against Kelly, and given state trends and incumbency, Kelly should be returned to the Senate.

Democrats are 63 cents at PredictIt to win the Senate seat in Arizona, the equivalent of -170 favorites in sports betting.

Georgia

Georgia is another race where Democrats just won the seat in 2020 (technically a January 2021 runoff), and have to defend it again. Neither David Perdue nor Doug Collins, the two most credible potential challengers, are running. Right now at PredictIt, former football star Herschel Walker is the 24-cent favorite to win the Republican nomination for this seat. However, he is a tepid favorite. That price is the equivalent of +317 odds in sports betting.

Georgia, similar to Arizona, is racing towards Democrats. In a state where Black voters and white voters with socially liberal views on issues like race and gay marriage are now the majority, the GOP are in retreat – as seen by them losing the Presidential vote, both Senate seats, and a House of Representatives seat in the state in the past year. It’s hard to see how Raphael Warnock loses the seat.

Those three seats get you to 49, meaning Democrats just need to win one of the four remaining to hit the 50 seats they need for the majority (after Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote).

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is even easier to analyze. If Republican Governor Chris Sununu doesn’t run, Democrats will win the seat. If he does, he would be the latest Governor to try and win a Senate seat in a state that supports the other party federally, and he is likely to come up the same way Steve Bullock’s Senate campaign in 2020 did – ending in tears and wasted donations. Democrats should win the state.

Republican Held Seats

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the most likely seat of any to flip, with the Republican incumbent retiring in this Biden-won state. If Democrats get a good candidate – with both incumbent Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Congressman Conor Lamb strong options – they have to be considered at least 50/50 to win the seat, if not slight favorites. The GOP are not having the same dynamic candidate selection process, with their frontrunner being the man who lost to Lamb in November.

At PredictIt, bettors have moved Democrats to 58 cents in PA midterm election odds, the equivalent of a -138 favorite in sports betting.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin could be a seat without an incumbent. Even if Ron Johnson runs – and there are many rumors he won’t – he is no lock to win again in his Biden-won state. Between comments saying he wanted a “limited” vaccine rollout and remarks that he didn’t fear the Capitol Rioters in January because they weren’t Antifa or Black Lives Matter, he isn’t exactly staking out moderate, electable positions to win again.

Given Biden won the state and there is an incumbent Democratic Governor up for re-election in 2022 on the ballot, the GOP can’t be considered anything more than the slightest of favorites, if even favorites.

North Carolina

North Carolina is a race where the GOP start as favorites, just because of Democratic inability to win Senate and Presidential races in recent years, but it would not be shocking at all for Democrats to edge ahead in the state this time, given the retirement of GOP incumbent Richard Burr and the state’s close margin in 2020. The GOP does start as the favorite here, though, given the fact Democrats last won federal statewide office here in 2008.

At PredictIt, Republicans are a strong 65-cent favorite to win the seat. The equates to a -186 favorite in sports betting.

Conclusions

  • Democrats have four seats where they could lose, even if they’re clear, inarguable favorites in all four.
  • Republicans need to win one of those four and hold their three.
  • The Republicans are not clear, inarguable favorites in the three seats they hold.
  • The GOP could absolutely win the Senate, but it is hard to justify the idea that they are, as of now, nearly 50/50 in midterm election odds to flip the Senate at PredictIt.
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