The 2022 Midterm Elections: What to Know Ahead of Election Day

Consider this your guide to key races, important dates, and more.

A US flag flies in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 28, 2022, a day ahead of US President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address. - Embroiled in the most severe US-Russia crisis since the Cold War, President Joe Biden will take on a no less difficult domestic challenge during his State of the Union address: restoring Americans' optimism
(Image credit: Getty)

In the weeks leading up to and on November 8, 2022, people across the country will vote in the 2022 midterm elections for the politicians they want to represent them at the federal, state, and local levels (who’s on your ballot will vary depending on the state and district you live in). This includes U.S. representatives and senators, governors, secretary of states, attorney generals, city council people, and more—all of whom have a profound impact on our lives. 

The open Congressional seats are a primary focus for the Biden administration this November, as who controls the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will influence President Biden’s agenda—and, ultimately, his success—for the second half of his term. However, many political organizers and activists will argue that voters’ energy should be equally, if not more, focused on who they’re voting for at the state and local level.

State legislatures, for example, have the power to ban abortion (and potentially restrict access to contraception), which we’ve already seen in conservative states like Arizona (opens in new tab), Kentucky (opens in new tab), and Mississippi (opens in new tab) following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade (opens in new tab) in June. It’s also important to pay attention to secretary of states—27 of whom will be up for election (opens in new tab) during this election cycle—who are responsible for overseeing free and fair elections, as well as city council members who determine the budget for local schools and police departments, amongst other responsibilities.

With so much at stake at all levels of government across the country, it’s important to educate yourself and make a plan to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. Ahead, everything you need to know about the midterms, from the projected fate of Congress to key races to pay attention to.

Congress 101

All of the 435 House seats and 35 out of 100 Senate seats are up for election this November. Redistricting (opens in new tab), as well as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, have shaken up predictions about who will control the House and Senate come November. Before Roe was overturned, pundits strongly predicted Republicans would take control of the House. Now, they’re not so sure. 

Currently, there are 221 Democrats and 212 Republicans (opens in new tab) in the House (plus two vacancies following the death of Rep. Jackie Walorski and the resignation of Rep. Charlie Crist amid his run for Florida governor). To retain control of the House (opens in new tab), Democrats have to keep 218 seats. Republicans are generally favored to keep most of the seats they currently occupy, however there are a wide range of scenarios (opens in new tab) that could play out. 

Meanwhile, in the Senate, all Republicans need to do is flip one seat to gain control of the chamber should all other occupied seats be held by the party. Fourteen Senate seats held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans (opens in new tab) are up for grabs. Per The Hill (opens in new tab), the Senate seats that are most likely to flip (opens in new tab) in 2022 for both Republicans and Democrats are in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona. FiveThirtyEight laid out its predictions for the Senate (opens in new tab), noting that Democrats are slightly favored to win the Senate. Though, again, anything is possible. Vox laid out three possible Congressional outcomes of the midterms (opens in new tab)— which includes Republicans controlling Congress, a divided Congress, and Democrats keeping control of Congress—and what each would mean for federal policy. 

What's at Stake

From abortion rights to gun policy to the environment to voting rights and democracy, there are a multitude of issues at stake in the 2022 midterm elections (opens in new tab). If you're curious as to where Democrats and Republicans stand on the issues, this piece (opens in new tab) will give you a general overview of party policies and the consequences of voter apathy. 

Key Races to Pay Attention To

Women continue to play an important role in U.S. elections, both as candidates and voters, on both sides of the aisle (opens in new tab). According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a record number of women are nominees for governor and state legislatures (opens in new tab) this fall, though we won’t see the same records in the U.S. House and Senate like we did in the 2018 midterm elections (opens in new tab). (Vote Run Lead launched a data visualization tool that shows the status of women's representation in state legislatures across the country.) What everyone—but women especially—will need to pay attention to, no matter which party they belong to, are the election deniers on the ballot (opens in new tab)—some of whom are women themselves, like Arkansas gubernatorial nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Rep. Elise Stefanik (opens in new tab) (NY-21) who’s up for reelection. 

“Something we're keeping our eye on and has big implications for women are all these election deniers (opens in new tab). In at least 27 states (opens in new tab) there's an election denier on the ballot,” explains Erin Vilardi, founder and CEO of Vote Run Lead. “Election-denying and white supremacy and the patriarchy and the rights that women have gained in our democracy are deeply connected.” 

You’ve likely already seen the headlines about highly-anticipated races like the Texas governorship (opens in new tab) and the Pennsylvania Senate seat (opens in new tab), amongst many others, that have been classified as some of the key races to watch during the 2022 midterms. That said, Marie Claire wanted to get a closer look specifically at the women who could break barriers at the state and local level this election cycle who may not receive as many national headlines, so we asked Vote Run Lead (opens in new tab) and Run for Something (opens in new tab)* to share some of the key races women and nonbinary candidates are running in that they’ve been keeping an eye on, below.

Although the list is primarily filled with Democrats, you can also view this full list of Republican women running for office (opens in new tab) in the 2022 midterms. 

State Races

Election: Arizona State House, District 4

Candidate: Laura Terech (D) (opens in new tab) 

Election: Arizona State House, District 24

Candidate: Analise Ortiz (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: California State Senate, District 20

Candidate: Caroline Menjivar (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Colorado State House, District 29

Candidate: Lindsey Daugherty (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Florida State Senate, District 18

Candidate: Eunic Ortiz (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Florida State House, District 38

Candidate: Sarah Henry (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Georgia Agriculture Commissioner

Candidate: Nakita Hemingway (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Georgia Secretary of State

Candidate: Bee Nguyen (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Georgia State House, District 97

Candidate: Ruwa Romman (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Georgia State Senate, District 4

Candidate: Nabilah Islam (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Illinois State House, District 51

Candidate: Nabeela Syed (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Iowa State House, District 40

Candidate: MacKenzie Bills (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Kentucky State House, District 33

Candidate: Kate Turner (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Michigan State House, District 27

Candidate: Jaime Churches (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Michigan State Senate, District 8

Candidate: Mallory McMorrow (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: New Hampshire Executive Council, District 5

Candidate: Shoshanna Kelly (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: New York State Senate, District 52

Candidate: Lea Webb (D)  (opens in new tab)

Election: Pennsylvania State Senate, District 38

Candidate: Lindsey Williams (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: South Carolina State House, District 5

Candidate: Heather Bauer (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Texas State House, District 121

Candidate: Becca Moyer DeFelice (D) (opens in new tab)

Local Races

Election: DeKalb County Clerk

Candidate: Linh Nguyen (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Harris County Judge

Candidate: Lina Hidalgo (D) (opens in new tab)

Election: Los Angeles County Supervisor

Candidate: Lindsey Horvath (D) (opens in new tab)

*The candidates listed above were shared by Vote Run Lead and Run for Something. They do not necessarily reflect endorsements from both organizations, nor does Marie Claire endorse these candidates. 

How to Register to Vote

Even if you believe you’re already registered to vote, voter suppression (opens in new tab) laws are currently being enacted across the country, which disproportionately affect people of color, so it’s important to make sure your registration is up-to-date and you’re ready to provide any additional materials needed leading up to or on Election Day. 

There are a number of ways to register to vote, but the easiest way would be to head to RocktheVote.org (opens in new tab) to register, check your registration status, request an absentee ballot (if necessary), and receive election reminders. You can find general voter and Election Day registration deadlines on Vote.org (opens in new tab) by typing in your state. This Washington Post article (opens in new tab) notes deadlines specifically for the 2022 midterm elections. 

You can also generate a sample ballot on Ballotpedia (opens in new tab), where you’ll be able to see the candidates on your ballot as well as ballot measures that you can research before you head to the polls or vote by mail. After you've completed the above, encourage others to do the same and remind them that every election is consequential.

How to Become a Poll Worker

COVID-19 caused a poll worker shortage across the country (opens in new tab) during the 2020 election, which resulted in over 700,000 people becoming poll workers to help ensure safe, free, and fair elections. Today, there's still a great need for poll workers. If you're interested in becoming a poll worker and making a difference in your community during the 2022 midterm elections, head to PowerThePolls.org (opens in new tab). Poll workers are trained and paid, though specific requirements for participation vary by jurisdiction. 

How Long Will It Take to Receive Final Election Results?

This will vary by state. States where voting is primarily conducted by mail, like California, Colorado, and Washington, typically take longer to count ballots, especially if they don't start counting until Election Day. In the 2020 election, vote-by-mail was a popular alternative to voting in person to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Right now, it's unclear whether we'll see a similar vote-by-mail trend in the 2022 midterm elections, though it is clear that more people are voting early (opens in new tab) in this year's midterm elections than previous ones. You can view early voting numbers (opens in new tab) across the country and follow live election updates here (opens in new tab).

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.