Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022

Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022
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With the announcement last week that Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Key Senate Republican praises infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ohio) will forgo seeking a third term representing the Buckeye State, Democrats are increasingly bullish about expanding their slim majority in the midterm elections. Portman won big in 2016, and as Punchbowl DC reports, “this was a shock to the Senate ... and Portman had said publicly as recently as December that he was running, so this is a real surprise.”

Sen. Portman joins a growing list of incumbent GOP members eyeing the exit in 2022, including Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.C.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.). As the Punchbowl writers note, “Ohio has gone red in the last two presidential elections by substantial margins, but Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownNew spotlight on secretaries of state as electoral battlegrounds Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE won reelection here handily in 2018. So a Democrat with the right message can win, as long as the national political environment isn’t too bad in 2022.”

Back in 2006, then-Rep. Sherrod Brown defeated the GOP incumbent, Sen. Mike DeWineMike DeWineOhio governor says vaccine lottery was successful Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions MORE, by more than 12 points and won a third term in 2018, easily dispatching GOP challenger Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGovernors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates Former House Republican to challenge DeWine for Ohio gubernatorial nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission MORE by nearly 7 points. At the time, Vox declared Brown’s victory as “old-time labor liberalism triumphing over Ohio’s rightward drift.” Despite that “rightward drift” and President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE carrying Ohio by 8 points, Democrats in the mold of Brown have a real shot at taking back Portman’s seat in two years.


Buckeye Democrats are also bullish about their chances given the budding ideological civil war happening on the ground between Trump loyalists like Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel Jordan58 percent say Jan. 6 House committee is biased: poll Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Jordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 MORE, Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Five things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Trump takes two punches from GOP MORE and Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerOvernight Defense: JEDI axed | Pentagon defends Bagram exit | Military justice reform coming soon Military braces for sea change on justice reform Lawmakers warn of growing threats to US satellites from adversaries MORE and more establishment choices like Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. As CNN notes, “The most significant divide in Republicans seeking the job will be between the state's congressional delegation and the statewide elected officials.” Depending on who eventually wins the GOP primary, it will be an uphill battle to unite all elements of the Ohio GOP.

In 2010, both Sens. Portman and Toomey were elected during President Obama’s first midterm election as part of GOP wave that flipped six seats in the upper chamber. Over the past 12 years, Toomey has struck a fairly moderate profile and currently serves as the only non-judiciary member of the GOP to hold statewide office. With Toomey’s announcement that he will forgo seeking a third term, Republicans in the Keystone State are likely to struggle in terms of competing against more well-known Democrats serving on the state level, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes delivered the presidency to Joe Biden this past November and — considering the deep blue bench as well as voting trends in the commonwealth — give Democrats great hope of flipping the Toomey seat.

North Carolina was certainly a disappointment for Team Biden on election night, but 2020 saw one of the slimmest margins for the state’s presidential victor, with Trump capturing the state by just 1.4 points. On the same ballot, however, Democrats were able to flip two congressional seats after the district lines had been redrawn following a court order. Back in 2016, even before his reelection that year, incumbent Sen. Richard Burr announced that his third term would be his last. This week saw the announcement from North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson that he would seek Burr’s seat, joining former state Sen. Erica Smith in the race. As The Hill notes, Jackson is serving his fourth term in the state Senate and serves as a captain in the Army National Guard, and he will be a formidable candidate against any of the Republicans currently considering a run, including Lara Trump.

While midterm elections are usually more difficult for the president’s party, as FiveThirtyEight notes, “the 2022 Senate map doesn’t force Democrats to compete on red turf nearly as much as the 2020 map or killer 2018 map did. In fact, no Democratic senators are running for reelection in states won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, while Republicans are defending two seats in states won by President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE: the open seat in Pennsylvania and Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Ron Johnson praises conservative author bashed by Fauci Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans MORE’s seat in Wisconsin.”

Interestingly enough, Johnson has dodged recent questions about whether he would seek a third term representing the Badger State. Johnson is not the only leading Republican undecided about running again, as CNN notes, with Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate MORE (R-S.D.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden names new watchdog at finance agency after embattled IG departs McConnell warns Democrats against 'artificial timeline' for infrastructure deal Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Iowa) and Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Senate passes .1 billion Capitol security bill MORE (R-Ala.) also sidestepping questions about their future plans.

Republicans are on the hook to defend 20 of their seats in 2022, while Team Blue has just 14 seats to hold, all in states won by Joe Biden in 2020. With this map and all of these GOP senate retirements, Democrats are in a strong position to expand their majority and buck recent midterm trends with the president’s party in control.

Kevin Walling (@kevinpwalling) is a Truman National Security Project Partner, Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News, Fox Business and Bloomberg TV and Radio.