Six states will be at the center of the political universe this November: The five President Joe Biden flipped in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — plus Nevada.

These states all have multiple critical races that will determine control of the Senate, the House and state governments. What happens in these states will impact issues like abortion rights, economic policy, education and the climate crisis — not just within their borders, but across the country.

Here’s the “too long; didn’t read” on what you need to know about the biggest states — and key races — ahead of the midterms.

CNN’s Election Center uses race ratings by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns for Senate, House and governor.

State of play

US Senate ratings

Democrats need at least 50 seats to keep control of the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris giving them the tie-breaking vote for a majority, while Republicans need 51 to gain control. Of the 35 seats on the ballot this year, Republicans are currently favored to win 20 seats, while Democrats are favored to win 12 seats. 3 seats are rated as toss-ups.

Seats up for election

Democrats are favored to win 12 seats. They need to win 14 to keep their majority.

Republicans are favored to win 20 seats. They need to win 22 to gain a majority.

US House ratings

To control the US House of Representatives, a party must hold 218 out of 435 seats. Republicans are currently favored to win 211 seats this November, while Democrats are favored to win 205 seats. 19 seats are currently rated as toss-ups.

Seats up for election

Democrats are favored to win 205 seats.

Republicans are favored to win 211 seats.

Arizona

Catch up

In 2020, Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Arizona since Bill Clinton won the state in 1996. Biden and Clinton are the only Democratic presidential nominees to win the state in more than 70 years.

What to watch

Republicans hope to take Arizona back after Democrats made inroads in the swing state in 2020 when Biden won the state and Mark Kelly flipped a Senate seat for Democrats.

However, the GOP isn’t putting up moderate Republicans to help that cause. Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters were both endorsed by Trump and have expressed skepticism that Biden legitimately won the state.

A large voting bloc in Arizona that could end up deciding these close races are Latinos, who represented 19% of the Arizona electorate in 2020, according to exit polls. This key voting bloc broke for Biden, who won 61% of the Latino vote, compared to Trump’s 37%.

Democrats will need to perform well in Maricopa County to hold onto their Senate seat and flip the governorship. The county, which includes Phoenix, is home to a majority of Arizona’s registered voters. Largely white collar and home to a sizable high-tech economy, the county has historically leaned Republican, but has been drifting towards Democrats in recent years.

Key races

US Senate

Tilt D

Sen. Mark Kelly (D) vs. Blake Masters (R)

Governor

Tossup

Kari Lake (R) vs. Katie Hobbs (D)

US House

Lean R

AZ-01: Rep. David Schweikert (R) vs. Jevin Hodge (D)

US House

Lean R

AZ-02: Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D) vs. Eli Crane (R)

US House

Likely D

AZ-04: Rep. Greg Stanton (D) vs. Kelly Cooper (D)

US House

Tilt R

AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (D) vs. Juan Ciscomani (R)

Secretary of State

Adrian Fontes (D) vs. Mark Finchem (R)

Ballot Measure

Proposition 309: Voter Identification Requirements for Mail-In Ballots and In Person Voting

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (22%)

18-64 years (60%)

65 and older (18%)

Race & ethnicity

White (53%)

Black (5%)

Latino (32%)

Asian (4%)

Gender

Female (50%)

Male (50%)

Read more from CNN

Georgia

Catch up

When Biden won Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, he became the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992 to win the state’s electoral college votes, the only times Democratic presidential nominees have won the state since native son Jimmy Carter was on the ballot.

What to watch

The last two election cycles have proven how close elections in Georgia can be – and that’s not likely to change this year. Just like Senate control came down to Georgia in 2020, the same could happen in 2022.

Last cycle, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won Senate seats to flip control of the chamber to Democrats. Warnock will now compete for a full term against Trump-backed football star Herschel Walker, who has maintained GOP support despite several scandals.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp survived a Trump-endorsed primary challenger this cycle after rejecting Trump’s election lies in 2020. He won his first term in office in 2018, beating Democrat Stacey Abrams by just 55,000 votes. Abrams never conceded, and the two will face each other again in November, but this time Kemp is coming into the race as a Republican who stood up to Trump. If Abrams wins, she would be the first female Black governor in U.S. history.

Key races

US Senate

Tossup

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) vs. Herschel Walker (R)

Governor

Lean R

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) vs. Stacey Abrams (D)

US House

Lean D

GA-02: Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) vs. Chris West (R)

Secretary of State

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) vs. Bee Nguyen (D)

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (23%)

18-65 years (62%)

Over 65 (15%)

Race & ethnicity

White (51%)

Black (33%)

Latino (10%)

Asian (5%)

Gender

Female (51%)

Male (49%)

Read more from CNN

Michigan

Catch up

Biden won Michigan back for Democrats in 2020, after Donald Trump became the first Republican to win the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Biden won Michigan by less than 155,000 votes.

What to watch

All eyes in Michigan will be on the state’s gubernatorial race as Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faces conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, who’s hoping her Trump endorsement will help turn the state back towards Republicans.

The right to abortion will also be on the ballot. Democrats hope the issue will help boost turnout among their base voters.

Voting and elections will also be key issues, as Michigan voters will decide on a ballot measure to expand access to the ballot, and elect a new secretary of state. Incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson faces Republican Kristina Karamo, who has backed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

To keep Michigan blue, Democrats will have to do well in the Detroit-area counties, as well as run up the score in more Democratic-friendly parts of the state like Ann Arbor and Lansing.

Republicans will likely do well in the western and northern parts of the state and will try to drum up more support in the historically conservative area around Grand Rapids, which has become more Democratic in recent years.

Key races

Governor

Tilt D

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vs. Tudor Dixon (R)

US House

Tilt D

MI-03: John Gibbs (R) vs. Hillary Scholten (D)

US House

Tilt D

MI-07: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) vs. Tom Barrett (R)

US House

Tilt D

MI-08: Rep. Dan Kildee (D) vs. Paul Junge (R)

US House

Lean R

MI-10: Carl Marlinga (D) vs. John James (R)

Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) vs. Kristina Karamo (R)

Ballot measure

Proposal 2: Right to Voting Policies Amendment

Ballot measure

Proposal 3: Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (21%)

18-64 years (61%)

65 and older (18%)

Race & ethnicity

White (74%)

Black (14%)

Latino (6%)

Asian (3%)

Gender

Female (50%)

Male (50%)

Read more from CNN

Nevada

Catch up

Nevada voted for every presidential winner from 1980 to 2012. That streak ended when Hillary Clinton won the Silver State in 2016, but it returned to form by voting for Biden in 2020. Biden won the state by a slightly smaller margin than Clinton did – despite his improved performance nationally. While Democrats have won the state in every presidential election beginning in 2008, their margin has narrowed each time.

What to watch

As Nevada tries to recover from a pandemic downturn that hit the tourism industry especially hard, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Steve Sisolak are among the Democratic party’s most vulnerable incumbents.

Cortez Masto faces a challenge from former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who despite losing a bid for governor in 2018, won statewide in 2014. Sisolak is running against Joe Lombardo, the sheriff of the state’s largest county.

Democracy is also on the ballot, as Republican Jim Marchant, who has cast doubt on the 2020 election, seeks to run Nevada’s elections as secretary of state.

Republican candidates ordinarily run best in the state’s more sparsely populated rural counties. Statewide races are usually won or lost, however, in Democratic-leaning Las Vegas and the surrounding communities of Clark County.

Key races

US Senate

Tossup

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) vs. Adam Laxalt (R)

Governor

Tossup

Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) vs. Joe Lombardo (R)

US House

Tilt D

MI-03: John Gibbs (R) vs. Hillary Scholten (D)

US House

Tilt D

NV-01: Rep. Dina Titus (D) vs. Mark Robertson (R)

US House

Tilt D

NV-03: Rep. Susie Lee (D) vs. April Becker (R)

US House

Lean D

NV-04: Rep. Steven Horsford (D) vs. Sam Peters (R)

Secretary of State

Jim Marchant (R) vs. Cisco Aguilar (D)

Ballot measure

Question 2: Minimum Wage Amendment

Ballot measure

Question 3: Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (22%)

18-64 years (62%)

65 and older (17%)

Race & ethnicity

White (47%)

Black (11%)

Latino (30%)

Asian (9%)

Gender

Female (50%)

Male (50%)

Read more from CNN

Pennsylvania

Catch up

Biden flipped Pennsylvania back to the Democratic column in 2020. Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, but before that, the state had voted for Democrats in six consecutive presidential elections.

What to watch

The state that put Biden over the top in 2020 will be home to some of the most important Senate and gubernatorial races in the country this year.

Republicans are hoping to hold on to an open Senate seat with former TV personality Mehmet Oz, while Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is hoping his nontraditional appeal can help him move the seat into the Democrats’ column.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is trying to maintain Democratic control of Pennsylvania’s governorship in a race that has taken on added importance because the governor appoints the official responsible for elections. Shapiro’s opponent is Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was a central figure supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Democratic base in Pennsylvania resides in urban Philadelphia and Pittsburgh while Republicans run up the score in the more rural central portion of the state. The Philadelphia suburbs have been moving towards Democrats while Republicans have improved in the western and northeastern parts of the state.

Key races

US Senate

Tossup

Mehmet Oz (R) vs. John Fetterman

Governor

Tilt D

Josh Shapiro (D) vs. Doug Mastriano (R)

US House

Tossup

PA-07: Rep. Susan Wild (D) vs. Lisa Scheller (R)

US House

Tossup

PA-08: Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D) vs. Jim Bognet (R)

US House

Tossup

PA-17 (Open D): Chris Deluzio (D) vs. Jeremy Shaffer (R)

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (21%)

18-64 years (60%)

65 and older (19%)

Race & ethnicity

White (75%)

Black (12%)

Latino (9%)

Asian (4%)

Gender

Female (51%)

Male (49%)

Read more from CNN

Wisconsin

Catch up

In 2020, Biden flipped Wisconsin back to blue by less than a point after Trump narrowly won the state in 2016. Trump’s win broke the streak for Democratic presidential candidates – they had won the previous seven elections.

What to watch

Wisconsin is one of the most closely divided states in the nation, and GOP Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers both face highly competitive reelection campaigns.

Johnson, who has a history of controversial statements about the pandemic and the Jan. 6 attack, is facing Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who at one point signaled support for removing police funding.

Evers faces Republican businessman Tim Michels, who won Trump’s support in the primary by aggressively amplifying the former president’s 2020 election lies.

Democrats receive the most support from historically blue-collar Milwaukee and the capital of Madison. The GOP base is found in the more affluent northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee, as well as in less populated counties in central Wisconsin.

Key races

US Senate

Tilt R

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) vs. Mandela Barnes (D)

Governor

Tossup

Gov. Tony Evers (D) vs. Tim Michels (R)

US House

Lean R

WI-03: Brad Pfaff (D) v. Derrick Van Orden (R)

Who lives here

Age

Under 18 (22%)

18-64 years (61%)

65 and older (18%)

Race & ethnicity

White (80%)

Black (7%)

Latino (8%)

Asian (3%)

Gender

Female (50%)

Male (50%)

Read more from CNN

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