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Pennsylvania midterm elections: House and Senate seats, candidates, issues and more

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Tomorrow millions of Americans from across the country will vote in the midterm elections to decide which party controls the legislative branch. 

Recent polling indicates that Republicans have gained significant leads over the Democrats in several key races that will decide the fat of the Senate as the House is likely to flip to the GOP. However, all eyes are on the keystone state as Republicans look to hold the state’s Senate seat with a political outsider, physician and former television host, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In total, the midterm elections will put 35 Senate seats, 435 House seats and 36 gubernatorial seats up for grabs. Republicans only need to win a net of five seats in order to regain the House and must win a majority of the swing state Senate races, such as Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, in order to take that chamber of Congress. Pennsylvania is one of the states Democrats must flip in order to help ensure they keep their existing majority for the 118th Congress.

In prior presidential elections, Pennsylvania has become a swing state in the Rustbelt, flipping for the first time in decades to Donald Trump in 2016 and then back to the Democrats in 2020 for President Joe Biden. 

ARIZONA, PENNSYLVANIA, OHIO, AND OTHER STATES WITH IMPORTANT MIDTERM RACES: WHY DO THEY MATTER?

On election day, voters who reside in Pennsylvania may cast their ballots in person from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at their nearby voting centers. In order to vote in person, every individual must show proof of identification via a passport, driver’s license, or employee ID. Pennsylvania also allows its citizens to mail in their voting ballots. However, all ballots must be received by county officials by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. 

Pennsylvanians will be able to vote on the upcoming governor’s race, a US Senate seat, and elect members to 17 U.S. House districts. Crime, inflation, abortion, and immigration are important issues that are at the center of the key races inside Pennsylvania. 

The Senate election in Pennsylvania is between retired surgeon and former daytime television host Dr. Mehmet Oz as the Republican contender and the state’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman who was supported by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party during the primary. Initially, Fetterman caused an upset by defeating Rep. Conor Lamb in the primary by an overwhelming 58% of the vote. In the Republican primary, the situation was much more chaotic as the former leading Trump-endorsed candidate Sean Parnell dropped out months into his campaign. This up-ended the race and led to Oz throwing his hat into the election at the last minute in a crowded field that included former Republican treasury official David McCormick. 

Former President Trump ultimately decided to endorse Oz and the former television host ended up inching a victory against the rest of the field with 31.2% of the vote. The upcoming general election is significant note only because it will help decide which party controls the Senate but also will test the electability of Trump’s primary endorsements. 

Fetterman has maintained a steady lead over Oz in the months since the primary, reaching a polling average of 8.7%, but his lead has recently shrunk after a number of missteps. In May 2022, Fetterman suffered a stroke while on the campaign trail, which made it difficult for him to speak and follow conversations. In the first and only debate with Oz in October, Fetterman struggled to form coherent sentences while being assisted with a closed captions screen.

Fetterman’s campaign has also declined to release his medical records and claims he is capable of serving in office in his current condition. 

The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Oz with a slight lead over the lieutenant governor heading into election day, but the race is anyone’s game at this point. 

WILL THE ISSUE OF GUN CONTROL, VIOLENCE AFFECT THE 2022 MIDTERM ELECTIONS?

The House elections in Pennsylvania are not as viable or important compared to the Senate and gubernatorial contests because the vast majority of the districts are considered either solidly Republican or Democratic seats. However, there are three districts that Cook Political Report, and other polling agencies, considered toss-ups in the upcoming election, including districts 7, 8, and 17. 

The 7th District, which is located in parts of Allegheny and Beaver County, is considered a toss-up election between incumbent Democrat Rep. Susan Wild and Republican challenger Lisa Scheller. If Scheller does win the district, it pushes the GOP closer to the five seats it needs to pick up to regain control of the House. Moreover, in Pennsylvania’s 9th District in the northeast region of the state, Incumbent Democrat Rep. Matt Cartwright is running against the Republican nominee Jim Bognet. During the 2020 election, Cartwright managed to gain re-election by 52.1% of the vote. 

Finally, the 17th District was once the seat of Democrat Conor Lamb, but he decided not to run for reelection, so he could compete in the Democratic Senate primary but ultimately lost to Fetterman. The open seat is a race between Democrat Chris Deluzio and Republican Jeremy Shaffer. 

Pennsylvania’s incumbent Governor Tom Wolf will be termed out of office by the end of this next election cycle. Therefore, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running as the Democratic gubernatorial contender against Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano. During the GOP primary, Mastriano was seen as the most pro-Trump candidate who promoted the former president’s allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. 

However, Shapiro has maintained a commanding lead over Mastriano in nearly all polling indexes and in RCP’s polling average. 

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