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'Purple America' will set political direction in 2022

'Purple America' will set political direction in 2022
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Six states were at the epicenter of the 2020 election and the bogus post Nov. 3 fiasco: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia — all were closely decided, and they provided the margin of victory for President BidenJoe BidenSuspect in FedEx shooting used two assault rifles he bought legally: police US, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change DC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is MORE and Democratic control of the Senate. Looking ahead to 2022, these same six states will likely be the focal point again determining which party has a Senate majority.

This is purple America.

It seems premature to discuss an election 21 months away, but both parties are targeting resources for these half dozen battlegrounds — there may be a few others — which reflect the intensity and partisanship of American politics. Senate candidates already are announcing.

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Both the battle for the House and the electoral parameters for the next presidential election will be affected by the 2020 census final results, sometime this summer. Republicans will benefit with states carried by Trump, picking up a net of five or six electoral votes.

In the House, Republican-controlled legislatures will control redistricting in Texas, Florida and North Carolina, all of which gain seats. All three have a history of partisan gerrymandering, North Carolina the most flagrant.

The six most purple states, five carried narrowly by Biden who lost a close race in North Carolina, all have Senate races on the ballot next year, three currently are Republican held and three are Democratic. It doesn't get any tighter.

There may be other contested Senate races, the stakes are so big. With incumbent Ohio Republican Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanKellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council MORE's retirement, Democrats are eyeing Ohio, and Republicans are taking a look at New Hampshire, where Democratic Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSchumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform To encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE, also a former governor, is up for reelection. It's uncertain whether Iowa Republican Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley: Iowa can't afford to be 'babysitting' unaccompanied minors Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire MORE, who will be 89 next year, or Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy, who will be 82, will run.

We know all the purple six will be in play. In Arizona, Democratic Senator and former astronaut Mark KellyMark KellyWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE, elected to complete the late John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure MORE's term, will be tough to unseat in a state that has moved away from its reliable Republican roots. That is especially so with the right-wing takeover of the GOP in Arizona — even disowning Republican Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceySex ed rules passed in Arizona would require parents to sign off on LGBT discussions, info Republican legislators target private sector election grants More GOP-led states risk corporate backlash like Georgia's MORE who was reviled by Trump for refusing to go along with baseless voter fraud claims — all of which has alienated independent voters.

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Likewise in Nevada, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto is the clear favorite. Jon Ralston, the political expert of all things Nevada told me the GOP has an uphill road unless "the Republicans nominate a moderate; and a moderate probably couldn't win a primary." The toughest foe would be Brian Sandoval, the current president of the University of Nevada, Reno, which Sandoval calls a "dream job" — one he wouldn’t likely relinquish to spend time with Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost US has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated MORE (R-Texas) in Washington.

The most challenged Democratic incumbent is Georgia's Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDemocratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents NBA names Obama alum to be director for social justice initiatives Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE who just won a special election last month to fill out a term. A black pastor, Warnock was a surprisingly strong candidate. Republican advantages in an off-year Georgia election are offset by its bitter internal divides. Trump has vowed to campaign against conservative Republican Gov. Brian KempBrian Kemp'Black Panther' director condemns Georgia voting law but says sequel will film in state Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia NBA names Obama alum to be director for social justice initiatives MORE who refused to support Trump’s phony claims about Biden not winning the state in November.

Among Republicans, Wisconsin's Republican Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Pelosi: Dropping 9/11-style Jan. 6 commission an 'option' amid opposition Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski launches Senate bid MORE, who may renege on his promise to only serve two terms, is losing support after his hyper partisan support for Trump; only days before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Johnson still was peddling the stolen election conspiracy. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called for his ouster before the insurrection. Democrats are lining up, including statewide elected officials.

The Pennsylvania seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE is wide open; it may depend on which party can avoid nominating its more ideological candidate.

Also wide open is North Carolina, where Republican Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Former Gov. Pat McCrory enters GOP Senate race in North Carolina Lara Trump leads GOP field in North Carolina Senate race, poll shows MORE is stepping down. The Trumps have fanned talk that the former president's daughter-in-law, Lara TrumpLara TrumpFormer Gov. Pat McCrory enters GOP Senate race in North Carolina Lara Trump leads GOP field in North Carolina Senate race, poll shows Former North Carolina governor set to launch Senate bid MORE, a native of the Tar Heel state, might run. That's probably a publicity stunt. For Democrats, there are two potentially strong Black possibilities: Anthony Fox, the former mayor of Charlotte and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden hits 59 percent approval rating in Pew poll Cuba readies for life without Castro Biden can make history on nuclear arms reductions MORE's Transportation Secretary, and Cheri Beasley who was chief justice of the state supreme court.

Unlike in the other five states, there is not a governor's race in North Carolina, but there are two contests for the state supreme court (where Democrats have a one-seat advantage) — both are currently held by Democrats, one by Sam Ervin IV, grandson of the legendary Watergate-era senator. The state courts have thwarted some of the massive overreaches of the right-wing legislature, including drawing of congressional and state legislative seats.

Traditionally, the party not holding the presidency does well in off year elections — but this time may be different, depending on how the Trump-inspired internecine Republican battles evolve… and whether President Biden gets good marks for controlling the pandemic and if there's a robust economic recovery.

Al Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then The International New York Times and Bloomberg View. He hosts 2020 Politics War Room with James Carville. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.