There are thousands of federal and state seats up for grabs in the 2022 election. Smart teams are making their plans now. Here’s what you need to create your playbook.
For those who question the intensity and importance of midterm elections, here’s a number that should halt any debate: there are at least 6,989 state and federal seats up for election this year. And the number of candidates is even higher.
The entire U.S. House is up for grabs, along with a third of the Senate. In the states, more than 70% of the nation’s governors will face voters, along with lawmakers in 46 states and scores of state treasurers, attorneys general and other offices.
The impact on the policy landscape will be substantial. The election will determine which party controls Congress, the Biden administration’s ability to operate, and how states will address everything from pandemic recovery to infrastructure.
For organizations that intend to play a role in the 2022 election, the time to start planning is now.
State of Play in the 2022 Elections
To help facilitate your planning, here is a look at what’s ahead. Take a look at our election table below to see what seats face election state-by-state.
- U.S. House. The House is narrowly controlled by Democrats 222-211, with two vacant seats (both formerly held by Republicans). It takes 218 seats to reach a majority and all 435 voting seats are up for election. Seats are also up in U.S. territories, such as American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in Washington DC.
- U.S. Senate. The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats in control by virtue of the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote. Thirty-four seats are up for regular election this year, meaning 15 Republicans and 13 Democrats will be on the ballot, along with six open seats. There is also a special election in Oklahoma to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who was last elected in 2021 and will step down in 2023. That brings the number of senate seats on the ballot to 35. In California, there is a special situation created by a quirk of election law when Vice President Kamala Harris left the Senate. A special election will be held to fill the final weeks of her term and the regular election will determine who holds the seat for the next six years. Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed to fill Harris’s term, will run in both elections.
- Governors. Republicans hold 28 governorships nationwide compared to 22 for Democrats. There are 36 state gubernatorial seats on the ballot this year, including 20 held by Republicans and 16 held by Democrats. There will also be gubernatorial elections in the U.S. territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There will be elections for lieutenant governor in 34 states.
- State Lawmakers. There are state legislative elections in 46 states, with the only exceptions being Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia. In total 6,296 state legislative seats will be on the ballot, including some in U.S. territories, meaning that a majority of America’s state legislative seats will be decided this year.
- Statewide Offices. There is much up for grabs as you travel down the ballot, including statewide offices like treasurer, attorney general and Secretary of State. There are at least 146 of these offices being decided nationwide.
- Ballot Measures. Dozens of ballot measures have already been certified in more than 30 states, with voting dates spread throughout the year, according to Ballotpedia. That number is likely to grow. The average number of ballot measures in a major federal election year from 2010 to 2020 was 164.
The Midterm Election, State-by-State
Here’s a partial look at the action in each state, based on KnowWho data. Expand the table to see all 50 states or use the search option to find what you need. Not pictured here are dozens of statewide races for offices such as treasurer and attorney general.
* Nebraska has a unicameral legislature.
** Oklahoma has a special U.S. Senate election to fill a retirement.
*** California is filling the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris. There is both a special and a regular election.
^ U.S. Territories
Resources to Create Your Plan Now
It’s easy to say we still have months to go before Election Day, and that is certainly true. But there will be plenty of activity in the months beforehand as candidates appear at debates and town halls, buy advertising and trade barbs with their opponents.
Many issues—sometimes your issues—are going to come up along the way. The ability to respond, rebut, endorse and otherwise have a voice in these campaigns will be critical. Many organizations also plan to do GOTV work, registering voters and bringing them the information they need to make decisions and cast a ballot.
Quorum’s State of Government Affairs Survey showed that more than 80% of associations, nonprofits and companies plan to get involved in the election. Almost two thirds of all organizations say they plan to advocate on issues during this year’s election. At least half of associations and nonprofits plan to get involved in GOTV work. A surprisingly high percentage of organizations—including 28% of corporations and 32% of associations—plan to support specific candidates.
But to do all that requires planning, which may be different for government affairs professionals working at membership organizations than it is for those working at corporations. We have resources to help both.
- Membership Organizations. Associations and nonprofits will be focused on communication around issues and on GOTV efforts. To learn more about how to set election-year goals, create a communications plan, and upgrade your capability to respond quickly and communicate effectively, download the guide, Sharpen Your Advocacy in an Election Year. It will explain the elements that go into a high-impact election election plan.
- Companies. Many well-known brands focus on civic participation, helping their employees register to vote and cast a ballot. For help on how to create an effective program, download Civic Engagement in a Digital World. The guide covers what major companies are doing to address the election; how to create a voter engagement program for your employees; and how your team can embrace sophisticated tactics, before and after the election.
“This year’s election will impact every government affairs team in some way,” said Jeb Ory, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Capitol Canary. “It’s important to be active, to speak out on issues and to help your advocates participate. The organizations that plan and get moving now will have a good story to tell in November.”