Warnock Win Seals Perfect 2022 for Senators Seeking Re-election

  • All Senate incumbents seeking re-election won their races
  • New Senate to have five split Senate delegations, a record low

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US Senators on the ballot in 2022 had an election year for the history books.

For the first time in the more than 100 years that voters have elected senators, all senators who sought re-election this year won.

The sweep was completed Tuesday by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a runoff. Democrats increased their Senate majority by one, to 51-49, after successfully defending all 15 of their seats that were at stake and capturing a Pennsylvania seat from Republican control.

Photographer: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speaks during a campaign event in Norcross, Georgia, on Tuesday.

Republicans won 20 Senate elections but faltered in Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) beat Mehmet Oz (R) by 5 percentage points, and also failed to unseat vulnerable Democratic incumbents in states including Georgia, where Warnock leads Walker by 2.8 points, according to the Associated Press; Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) edged former state attorney general Adam Laxalt (R) by 0.8 points; and Arizona, where Sen. Mark Kelly (D) beat Blake Masters (R) by 5 points.

Democrats may face an even stiffer test to hold their majority in the 2024 election, when they’ll be defending 23 Senate seats compared to just 11 for Republicans.

While several senators had close races Nov. 8, no incumbent came close to being unseated in the primary. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the only Republican senator who sought re-election in 2022 after voting to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial, defeated pro-Trump Republican Kelly Tshibaka after Alaska ended party primaries and implemented a nonpartisan blanket primary and ranked-choice-voting general election.

In 2010, Murkowski was re-elected as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary.

Direct Elections

In the 1914 Senate elections, the first held after the 17th Amendment mandated that voters elect senators rather than have state Legislatures pick them, no senator lost in the general election but two were ousted in the primaries. One was Joseph Bristow (R-Kan.), a leading advocate of direct election who lost to Charles Curtis, a future vice president.

In three other election years just one senator was unseated, all in the general election: in 1960, when Sen. Allen Frear (D-Del.) was unseated by Republican Caleb Boggs (who would lose his seat to Joe Biden in 1972); in 1990, when Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.) was felled by Paul Wellstone (D); and in 2004, when Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) was ousted by John Thune (R).

With Fetterman succeeding retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in a state President Joe Biden won in 2020, the 118th Congress in January will have a record high of 95 senators representing states where their party won the most votes in the most recent presidential election. Put another way, 48 of the 51 senators in the Democratic caucus will be from states Biden won in 2020, and 47 of the 49 Republican senators will be from states Trump carried.

“This of course has big implications for governance, because the congressional parties represent such divergent constituencies, making it much harder to compromise across party lines,” Gary C. Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego, said in an email. “It also shows the nationalization of electoral politics that reduces the importance of local differences within the parties and encourages polarization at all levels of government.”

The three Democratic senators from Trump states are Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, who are all up for re-election in 2024. The two Republican senators from Biden states are Susan Collins of Maine, who’s up for re-election in 2026, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who was re-elected Nov. 8 by 1 percentage point over Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

“Americans have done a pretty good job at sorting themselves out politically,” Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said in an interview. “Party identity is second only to religion in terms of the tenacity with which Americans hold any particular loyalty.”

Split Delegations

Maine, Montana, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin also represent a record low number of five states that have politically split Senate delegations. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who serves with Collins, is counted as a Democrat because he caucuses with that party.

With every senator seeking re-election in 2022 successful, the freshmen class in the 118th Congress will be smaller than usual — just seven members including Fetterman. The others are:

  • Katie Britt (R-Ala.), 40, who will succeed her former boss, Richard Shelby (R), and become the youngest woman senator in the 118th Congress and the youngest Republican woman ever to serve in the chamber.
  • Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), who won the seat of Richard Burr (R).
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who will succeed Jim Inhofe (R) after Inhofe vacates his seat two years into his current six-year term.
  • Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), the Missouri attorney general elected to succeed Roy Blunt (R).
  • JD Vance (R-Ohio), an author and former venture capitalist who defeated Rep. Tim Ryan (D) for the seat of Rob Portman (R).
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who will succeed Patrick Leahy (D), whose 48 years in the Senate is the third-longest tenure in history.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: George Cahlink at gcahlink@bloombergindustry.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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