There’s nothing like a Supreme Court vacancy to get people in Washington talking about the Senate.
It’s less clear, however, whether the voters who will decide control of the Senate nine months from now are attuned to that conversation, especially since the ideological makeup of the court is not in the balance. Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision to retire came as President Joe Biden’s approval rating stood at 42%, with 55% disapproving, according to CNN’s average of six recent national polls. The best scenario for Democrats is that the vacancy and Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman will help drive base enthusiasm and remind moderates who care about abortion rights, for example, of what’s at stake in the battle for the Senate. But that may be a lot of theoretical dot-connecting for most Americans preoccupied with high prices at the pump and the checkout line.
Still, the seat most likely to flip partisan control is the place where Democrats see the Supreme Court vacancy as having perhaps the biggest impact. That’s not a new development: Pennsylvania has led the list since CNN started ranking the 2022 races nearly a year ago. But it speaks to the demographics Democrats need to turn out in the Keystone State — their urban base and suburban voters.
The ranking is based on CNN’s reporting and fundraising data, as well as historical data about how states and candidates have performed. Fundraising reports for the fourth quarter of 2021, which were due to the Federal Election Commission by Monday, showed some Democrats raising massive sums of money, while some Republican candidates poured significant personal wealth into their campaigns. As the year progresses, more polling and advertising spending data will become bigger factors in the ranking.