US midterm elections: five races to watch

Outcome of Tuesday’s polls across the US will shape political landscape for next two years at least

Americans go to the polls on Tuesday in midterm elections that will shape the US political landscape for the next two years at least. Here are five contests to watch out for.

Senate seat, Pennsylvania

This is believed to be the most expensive senate campaign in the country with both parties and their supporters pouring in an estimated $300 million into this crucial seat which is held by a Republican who is retiring.

The outcome in Pennsylvania could have a huge impact on which party ultimately controls the US senate.

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Polls show that Democrat John Fetterman is very narrowly ahead of television doctor Mehmet Oz. Fetterman suffered a stroke in May and Republicans have repeatedly questioned whether his health is up to doing the job. Oz’s campaign has also claimed Fetterman is soft on crime.

Oz became famous through appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s television show in the United States. However on Thursday night Winfrey endorsed Fetterman. Polls close in Pennsylvania at 8pm locally – 1am in Ireland

Senate seat, Georgia

Georgia has increasingly become a competitive state over recent years.

Serving Democratic senator Raphael Warnock is competing with former football star Herschel Walker, who is strongly backed by Donald Trump.

Warnock is facing the same headwinds over inflation and the economy as other Democrats across the country. However, Walker’s campaign has been beset by allegations that he paid for former partners to have abortions. Walker, who is strongly anti-abortion, has denied these charges. The Republican establishment has strongly stood by Walker as his campaign came under attack. If no candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the vote, there will be a run-off in December.

Polls close in Georgia at 7pm – midnight in Ireland.

Governor, New York

This should have been a reasonably comfortable election for Democrat Kathy Hochul, New York’s first woman governor, who took over after Andrew Cuomo resigned last year. However, Hochul is facing a far tougher competition contest than many would have anticipated.

A Republican has not won a state-wide election in New York in 20 years. But Republican candidate Lee Zeldin, who is a congressman, has cut Hochul’s lead to single digits in a campaign which has hammered Democrats over crime and inflation.

Hochul has called in the big guns with vice-president Kamala Harris and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton all canvassing for her in recent days.

A Republican victory in New York would be a political sensation.

Polls close in New York at 9pm – 2am in Ireland

Senate seat, Nevada

Serving senator Catherine Cortez Masto is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the elections.

The large Hispanic population in the state had been seen as mainly leaning towards the Democrats in previous years. However there is some evidence that this may be changing in the wake of the economic turbulence that has hit the state hard, first on foot of the pandemic and more recently due to inflation. The economy, for example in the city of Las Vegas, which is mainly based around tourism and entertainment, was devastated by impact of Covid.

Some polls in recent days suggest that Republican candidate Adam Laxalt is slightly ahead.

Polls close in Nevada at 7pm – 3am in Ireland

Governor, Arizona

Even in a highly polarised country, politics in Arizona seem extraordinary. Armed and masked individuals have been staking out election drop boxes, ostensibly seeking to deter fraudulent voting, while candidates who deny the 2020 election result are running for the Republicans in a number of contests.

Former TV anchor Kari Lake, a strong Trump supporter, is running neck and neck (or slightly ahead) of Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate for governor. Lake has said she would not have certified Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 if she had been governor at the time.

Former president Barack Obama, canvasing for Democratic candidates in the state this week, warned that democracy could die in the state if various election deniers running for top offices in Arizona are successful in the elections this week.

Polls close in Arizona at 7pm – 2am in Ireland