As the calendar turns to 2022, Senate races are about to kick into much higher gear, with ad spending increasing ahead of the first primaries in May and just a few more fundraising quarters for candidates to prove they're serious The biggest storyline to watch heading into 2022 is the resolution of contested GOP primaries. In at least six of the 10 states on this list, Republicans are facing unsettled fields -- some more problematic for the party than others -- that may go a long way toward shaping their ability to harness a favorable political environment.
Developments in these states over the past month have been mixed for the GOP. Some Republicans feel like they dodged a bullet in Pennsylvania, where the candidate backed by former President Donald Trump dropped out. But in New Hampshire, they're disappointed the governor isn't running for Senate. The power of the ex-President's endorsement is still an open question in some places, but as Republicans across the country scramble for his blessing, primaries look very much like the Trump loyalty contests of 2018 and 2020 -- except with the added (and increasingly dangerous) litmus test of election denialism. Candidates are repeating various versions of Trump's lies about fraud in the 2020 election to curry favor with the former commander in chief. But as elections in Virginia and New Jersey last month showed, the national environment is significantly worse for Democrats than it was just months after President Joe Biden's victory and after Democrats flipped two Georgia Senate seats. Rising inflation and a pandemic that is once again raising questions about Americans' ability to gather this holiday season are contributing to a gloomy mood that's overshadowed any enthusiasm about Washington having passed a bipartisan infrastructure deal.