MISSOURI – 8 EDT
For a long time, it looked as if disgraced ex-Governor Eric Greitens was going to be the Republican nominee (and thus the heavy favorite for the November election). However, Attorney General Eric Schmitt has surged of late, with conservatives eager to rally around a less controversial and less scandal-plagued candidate, and the late movement Schmitt has garnered has propelled him into the lead, with the AG having led every single recent poll of the race. While Greitens still has a lane, it is a limited one; he does not really have Trump’s endorsement to himself, and so any Greitens win would probably have to involve Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler pulling a significant percent of the anti-Greitens vote, combined with a serious surge among low-trust rural Republican voters. This is certainly possible, and it has happened before; however, it is not the scenario we would bet on. We rate this race as LEANS SCHMITT, with a predicted ordering of Schmitt, Greitens, and Hartzler.
Whoever wins the GOP primary will be comfortably favored against the Democratic nominee. This is likely to be businesswoman Trudy Busch Valentine, who has a commanding polling lead over veteran Lucas Kunce. We rate the primary as LEANS BUSCH VALENTINE, but it does not change our general election rating, which remains SAFE REPUBLICAN.
KANSAS – 8 & 9 EDT
Incumbent senator Jerry Moran should coast to renomination and re-election in the absence of a strong Democratic challenge. SAFE REPUBLICAN.
ARIZONA – 10 EDT
For a long time, the race to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly was one of the most hotly contested GOP primaries of the cycle. However, with Donald Trump’s recent endorsement of businessman and Thiel Foundation president Blake Masters, the race has shifted decisively in his favor, and it would be a considerable surprise if anyone were to beat him to the nomination now. While businessman Jim Lamon and Attorney General Mark Brnovich both stayed within touching distance for much of the cycle, Masters has now pulled clear of the field and looks set to become the GOP nominee to square off against Mark Kelly.
This may be a problem for Republicans, because Masters has taken a number of unpopular stances on birth control, gay marriage, abortion, social security, and the validity of the 2020 election. Perhaps not coincidentally, Masters currently polls as the worst of the major contenders against Kelly, who remains comfortably ahead in most early surveys of the race. Split Ticket rates the primary as LIKELY MASTERS and the general election currently as a TOSSUP, especially given the time between now and the election — however, if we had to pick a winner today, it would probably be Kelly.
WASHINGTON – 11 EDT
Senator Patty Murray is running for a sixth term, and she faces a well-funded challenger in Tiffany Smiley; the two will almost assuredly finish first and second in Washington’s jungle primary, foreshadowing a November face-off. While Split Ticket currently has this race at SAFE DEMOCRATIC, this is mainly out of a lack of concrete data with which to inform our priors beyond the state’s Biden +19 presidential lean, limited early polling, and fundraising. The state’s primary composition, however, is usually highly predictive of the November results. A key thing to watch here is whether Democrats hit 50% in the Senate primary vote; if they do, Murray’s re-election is likely all but a formality, as the November electorate is almost always more Democratic than the primary one. If they don’t, it opens the door for a ratings shift to the right, which could happen if Republicans win the combined primary vote by more than a couple points.
Kansas governor Laura Kelly flipped her state’s executive for the Democrats in 2018, a first since 2006, when Kathleen Sebelius was reelected. This is despite the state’s preference for conservatives, as it has consistently supported Republicans for President since 1968. Importantly, both governors have made a combined total of five appointments to the seven-member Kansas Supreme Court, in no doubt helping the pro-choice interpretation of the state constitution become law in the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019) case.
The very same Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, is poised to win the Republican nomination for governor, where he will attempt to unseat Governor Kelly in a race Split Ticket rates as LEANS REPUBLICAN. Kelly and Schmidt have similar favorabilities, but Kelly enjoys the electoral privileges of incumbency. A strong turnout differential, or a surprise result for the concurrent ballot proposition may necessitate an adjustment to this rating.
MICHIGAN – 8 & 9 EDT
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is another governor who flipped the position from the Republicans in a Trump-won state in 2018. Whitmer led with a rock-solid 400,000-vote margin, although a more conservative electorate this year has made her reelection a more difficult race on paper.
The presumptive Republican nominee, Tudor Dixon, a conservative activist and businesswoman, has been endorsed by the influential DeVos family, and perhaps more importantly, former President Donald Trump. These endorsements helped her rise above a turbulent and controversy-ridden field, although Dixon herself has staked out an extreme position on abortion.
Although culture war issues can often be “red meat” for partisan primary voters, expanding to a broader general election coalition for Dixon will be difficult, especially given the organizational prowess of Michigan’s pro-choice activists. Governor Whitmer has also worked to defend access to abortion, giving the issue a unique salience in the state. This also includes a likely ballot initiative, which will constitutionally protect the right to abortion access.
In consideration of a likely turnout surge among liberal and moderate pro-choice voters, alongside current polling suggesting that Whitmer has reached the critical 50% mark, Split Ticket rates this race as LEANS DEMOCRATIC, favoring the incumbent for reelection.
Term-limited Governor Doug Ducey (R) was reelected in spite of the 2018 “blue wave” by a resounding fourteen-point margin in a Trump-won state that would flip to Biden two years later. Candidates from both parties are now seeking to replace a governor in what has become one of the most competitive states in the nation, having gone to Biden by a narrow 0.3% margin, or just over ten thousand votes.
The Republican primary features two candidates, former FOX affiliate news anchor Kari Lake, and Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake has shored up endorsements from figures such as former President Trump, Representative Paul Gosar, and State Senator Wendy Rogers, a more extreme and controversial slate than Taylor Robson’s endorsements, which includes Governor Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence. Polling generally shows Lake ahead by double digits, although one poll shows the race at a statistical tie. In abundance of caution, Split Ticket rates this race as LEANS LAKE, as she appears to be the favorite to win the GOP nomination. High Republican turnout should be a good sign for the former media figure, as her base appears to be younger and with a lower voting propensity.
The Democratic primary should be an easy win for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is leading every poll with an insurmountable margin.
Split Ticket has the November stage of this race as a TOSSUP, given the lack of candidate incumbency and the lack of recent nonpartisan polling. Though, it should be noted that Taylor Robson appears to be polling marginally ahead of Lake. Again, turnout differentials and future polling will help refine this rating, but for now, it holds.
A must-watch statewide proposition will be in Kansas, where Kansan voters will decide whether or not the legislature will be able to restrict abortion access, which is currently off-limits according to the Kansas Supreme Court’s interpretation of the state constitution. The “Value Them Both Amendment” will be the first explicitly abortion-related referendum following the Supreme Court of the United State’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson (2022), which revoked the federal right to an abortion, instead relegating the issue to the individual states. Only one poll regarding the vote has been published: showing the pro-restriction “Yes” vote leading by a margin of 47 to 43, with 10% of respondents undecided. Therefore Split Ticket rates the outcome of this vote to be LEANS YES given the uncertainties involved with predicting a ballot proposition with a single poll.