A Facebook search for the words “election fraud” first delivers an article claiming that workers at a Pennsylvania children’s museum are brainwashing children so they’ll accept stolen elections.
Facebook’s second suggestion? A link to an article from a site called MAGA Underground that says Democrats are plotting to rig next month’s midterms. “You should still be mad as hell about the fraud that happened in 2020,” the article insists.
With less than three weeks before the polls close, misinformation about voting and elections abounds on social media despite promises by tech companies to address a problem blamed for increasing polarization and distrust.
While platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube say they’ve expanded their work to detect and stop harmful claims that could suppress the vote or even lead to violent confrontations, a review of some of the sites shows they’re still playing catch-up with 2020, when then-President Donald Trump’s lies about the election he lost to Joe Biden helped fuel an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“You would think that they would have learned by now,” said Heidi Beirich, founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism and a member of a group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board that has criticized the platform’s efforts. “This isn’t their first election. This should have been addressed before Trump lost in 2020. The damage is pretty deep at this point.”
If these U.S.-based tech giants can’t properly prepare for a U.S. election, how can anyone expect them to handle overseas elections, Beirich said.
Mentions of a “stolen election ” and “voter fraud” have soared in recent months and are now two of the three most popular terms included in discussions of this year’s election, according to an analysis of social media, online and broadcast content conducted by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs on behalf of The Associated Press.
On Twitter, Zignal’s analysis found that tweets amplifying conspiracy theories about the upcoming election have been reposted many thousands of times, alongside posts restating debunked claims about the 2020 election.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File
FILE - The Twitter logo is seen on a mobile phone, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston.
Most major platforms have announced steps intended to curb misinformation about voting and elections, including labels, warnings and changes to systems that automatically recommend certain content. Users who consistently violate the rules can be suspended. Platforms have also created partnerships with fact-checking organizations and news outlets like the AP, which is part of Meta’s fact-checking program.
“Our teams continue to monitor the midterms closely, working to quickly remove content that violates our policies,” YouTube said in a statement. “We’ll stay vigilant ahead of, during, and after Election Day.”
Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, announced this week that it had reopened its election command center, which oversees real-time efforts to combat misinformation about elections. The company dismissed criticism that it’s not doing enough and denied reports that it has cut the number of staffers focused on elections.
“We are investing a significant amount of resources, with work spanning more than 40 teams and hundreds of people,” Meta said in a statement emailed to the AP.
The platform also said that starting this week, anyone who searches on Facebook using keywords related to the election, including “election fraud,” will automatically see a pop-up window with links to trustworthy voting resources.
TikTok created an election center earlier this year to help voters in the U.S. learn how to register to vote and who’s on their ballot. The information is offered in English, Spanish and more than 45 other languages. The platform, now a leading source of information for young voters, also adds labels to misleading content.
“Providing access to authoritative information is an important part of our overall strategy to counter election misinformation,” the company said of its efforts to prepare for the midterms.
But policies intended to stop harmful misinformation about elections aren’t always enforced consistently. False claims can often be buried deep in the comments section, for instance, where they nonetheless can leave an impression on other users.
A report released last month from New York University faulted Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for amplifying Trump’s false statements about the 2020 election. The study cited inconsistent rules regarding misinformation as well as poor enforcement.
Concerned about the amount of misinformation about voting and elections, a number of groups have urged tech companies to do more.
“Americans deserve more than lip service and half-measures from the platforms,” said Yosef Getachew, director of Common Cause’s media and democracy program. “These platforms have been weaponized by enemies of democracy, both foreign and domestic.”
Election misinformation is even more prevalent on smaller platforms popular with some conservatives and far-right groups like Gab, Gettr and TruthSocial, Trump’s own platform. But those sites have tiny audiences compared with Facebook, YouTube or TikTok.
Beirich’s group, the Real Facebook Oversight Board, crafted a list of seven recommendations for Meta intended to reduce the spread of misinformation ahead of the elections. They included changes to the platform that would promote content from legitimate news outlets over partisan sites that often spread misinformation, as well as greater attention on misinformation targeting voters in Spanish and other languages.
Meta told the AP it has expanded its fact-checking network since 2020 and now has twice as many Spanish-language fact checkers. The company also launched a Spanish-language fact-checking tip line on WhatsApp, another platform it owns.
Much of the misinformation aimed at non-English speakers seems aimed at suppressing their vote, said Brenda Victoria Castillo, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, who said that the efforts by Facebook and other platforms aren’t equal to the scale of the problem posed by misinformation.
“We are being lied to and discouraged from exercising our right to vote,” Castillo said. “And people in power, people like (Meta CEO) Mark Zuckerberg are doing very little while they profit from the disinformation.”
Mehmet Oz (Republican) vs. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Democrat)
Incumbent: Republican Pat Toomey (retiring)
The most consistent thing about CNN's rankings, dating back to 2021, has been Pennsylvania's spot in first place. But the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey has tightened since the primaries in May, when Republican Mehmet Oz emerged badly bruised from a nasty intraparty contest. In a CNN Poll of Polls average of recent surveys in the state, Democrat John Fetterman, the state lieutenant governor, had the support of 50% of likely voters to Oz's 45%. (The Poll of Polls is an average of the four most recent nonpartisan surveys of likely voters that meet CNN's standards.) Fetterman is still overperforming Biden, who narrowly carried Pennsylvania in 2020. Fetterman's favorability ratings are also consistently higher than Oz's.
One potential trouble spot for the Democrat: More voters in a late September Franklin and Marshall College Poll viewed Oz has having policies that would improve voters' economic circumstances, with the economy and inflation remaining the top concern for voters across a range of surveys. But nearly five months after the primary, the celebrity surgeon still seems to have residual issues with his base. A higher percentage of Democrats were backing Fetterman than Republicans were backing Oz in a recent Fox News survey, for example, with much of that attributable to lower support from GOP women than men. Fetterman supporters were also much more enthusiastic about their candidate than Oz supporters.
Republicans have been hammering Fetterman on crime, specifically his tenure on the state Board of Pardons: An ad from the Senate Leadership Fund features a Bucks County sheriff saying, "Protect your family. Don't vote Fetterman." But the lieutenant governor is also using sheriffs on camera to defend his record. And with suburban voters being a crucial demographic, Democratic advertising is also leaning into abortion, like this Senate Majority PAC ad that features a female doctor as narrator and plays Oz's comments from during the primary about abortion being "murder." Oz's campaign has said that he supports exceptions for "the life of the mother, rape and incest" and that "he'd want to make sure that the federal government is not involved in interfering with the state's decisions on the topic."
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Democrat) vs. Adam Laxalt (Republican)
Incumbent: Cortez Masto
Republicans have four main pickup opportunities -- and right now, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto's seat looks like one of their best shots. Biden carried Nevada by a slightly larger margin than two of those other GOP-targeted states, but the Silver State's large transient population adds a degree of uncertainty to this contest.
Republicans have tried to tie the first-term senator to Washington spending and inflation, which may be particularly resonant in a place where average gas prices are now back up to over $5 a gallon. Democrats are zeroing in on abortion rights and raising the threat that a GOP-controlled Senate could pass a national abortion ban. Former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt -- the rare GOP nominee to have united McConnell and Trump early on -- called the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling a "joke" before the Supreme Court overturned the decision in June. Democrats have been all too happy to use that comment against him, but Laxalt has tried to get around those attacks by saying he does not support a national ban and pointing out that the right to an abortion is settled law in Nevada.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (Democrat) vs. Herschel Walker (Republican)
The closer we get to Election Day, the more we need to talk about the Georgia Senate race going over the wire. If neither candidate receives a majority of the vote in November, the contest will go to a December runoff. There was no clear leader in a recent Marist poll that had Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who's running for a full six-year term, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker both under 50% among those who say they definitely plan to vote.
Warnock's edge from earlier this cycle has narrowed, which bumps this seat up one spot on the rankings. The good news for Warnock is that he's still overperforming Biden's approval numbers in a state that the President flipped in 2020 by less than 12,000 votes. And so far, he seems to be keeping the Senate race closer than the gubernatorial contest, for which several polls have shown GOP Gov. Brian Kemp ahead. Warnock's trying to project a bipartisan image that he thinks will help him hold on in what had until recently been a reliably red state. Standing waist-deep in peanuts in one recent ad, he touts his work with Alabama GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville to "eliminate the regulations," never mentioning his own party. But Republicans have continued to try to tie the senator to his party -- specifically for voting for measures in Washington that they claim have exacerbated inflation.
Democrats are hoping that enough Georgians won't see voting for Walker as an option -- even if they do back Kemp. Democrats have amped up their attacks on domestic violence allegations against the former football star and unflattering headlines about his business record. And all eyes will be on the mid-October debate to see how Walker, who has a history of making controversial and illogical comments, handles himself onstage against the more polished incumbent.
Sen. Ron Johnson (Republican) vs. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (Democrat)
Sen. Ron Johnson is the only Republican running for reelection in a state Biden won in 2020 -- in fact, he broke his own term limits pledge to run a third time, saying he believed America was "in peril." And although Johnson has had low approval numbers for much of the cycle, Democrats have underestimated him before. This contest moves down one spot on the ranking as Johnson's race against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has tightened, putting the senator in a better position.
Barnes skated through the August primary after his biggest opponents dropped out of the race, but as the nominee, he's faced an onslaught of attacks, especially on crime, using against him his past words about ending cash bail and redirecting some funding from police budgets to social services. Barnes has attempted to answer those attacks in his ads, like this one featuring a retired police sergeant who says he knows "Mandela doesn't want to defund the police."
A Marquette University Law School poll from early September showed no clear leader, with Johnson at 49% and Barnes at 48% among likely voters, which is a tightening from the 7-point edge Barnes enjoyed in the same poll's August survey. Notably, independents were breaking slightly for Johnson after significantly favoring Barnes in the August survey. The effect of the GOP's anti-Barnes advertising can likely be seen in the increasing percentage of registered voters in a late September Fox News survey who view the Democrat as "too extreme," putting him on parity with Johnson on that question. Johnson supporters are also much more enthusiastic about their candidate.
Sen. Mark Kelly (Democrat) vs. Blake Masters (Republican)
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who's running for a full six-year term after winning a 2020 special election, is still one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents in a state that has only recently grown competitive on the federal level. But Republican nominee Blake Masters is nowhere close to rivaling Kelly in fundraising, and major GOP outside firepower is now gone. After canceling its September TV reservations in Arizona to redirect money to Ohio, the Senate Leadership Fund has cut its October spending too.
Other conservative groups are spending for Masters but still have work to do to hurt Kelly, a well-funded incumbent with a strong personal brand. Kelly led Masters 51% to 41% among registered voters in a September Marist poll, although that gap narrowed among those who said they definitely plan to vote. A Fox survey from a little later in the month similarly showed Kelly with a 5-point edge among those certain to vote, just within the margin of error.
Masters has attempted to moderate his abortion position since winning his August primary, buoyed by a Trump endorsement, but Kelly has continued to attack him on the issue. And a recent court decision allowing the enforcement of a 1901 state ban on nearly all abortions has given Democrats extra fodder to paint Republicans as a threat to women's reproductive rights.
6. North Carolina
Rep. Ted Budd (Republican) vs. Cheri Beasley (Democrat)
Incumbent: Republican Richard Burr (retiring)
North Carolina slides up one spot on the rankings, trading places with New Hampshire. The open-seat race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr hasn't generated as much national buzz as other states given that Democrats haven't won a Senate seat in the state since 2008.
But it has remained a tight contest with Democrat Cheri Beasley, who is bidding to become the state's first Black senator, facing off against GOP Rep. Ted Budd, for whom Trump recently campaigned. Beasley lost reelection as state Supreme Court chief justice by only about 400 votes in 2020 when Trump narrowly carried the Tar Heel state. But Democrats hope that she'll be able to boost turnout among rural Black voters who might not otherwise vote during a midterm election and that more moderate Republicans and independents will see Budd as too extreme. One of Beasley's recent spots features a series of mostly White, gray-haired retired judges in suits endorsing her as "someone different" while attacking Budd as being a typical politician out for himself.
Budd is leaning into current inflation woes, specifically going after Biden in some ads that feature half-empty shopping carts, without even mentioning Beasley. Senate Leadership Fund is doing the work of trying to tie the Democrat to Washington -- one recent spot almost makes her look like the incumbent in the race, superimposing her photo over an image of the US Capitol and displaying her face next to Biden's. Both SLF and Budd are also targeting Beasley over her support for Democrats' recently enacted health care, tax and climate bill. "Liberal politician Cheri Beasley is coming for you -- and your wallet," the narrator from one SLF ad intones, before later adding, "Beasley's gonna knock on your door with an army of new IRS agents." (The new law increases funding for the IRS, including for audits. But Democrats and the Trump-appointed IRS commissioner have said the intention is to go after wealthy tax cheats, not the middle class.)
7. New Hampshire
Sen. Maggie Hassan (Democrat) vs. Don Bolduc (Republican)
A lot has been made of GOP candidate quality this cycle. But there are few states where the difference between the nominee Republicans have and the one they'd hoped to have has altered these rankings quite as much as New Hampshire.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who lost a 2020 GOP bid for the state's other Senate seat, won last month's Republican primary to take on first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. The problem for him, though, is that he doesn't have much money to wage that fight. Bolduc had raised a total of $579,000 through August 24 compared with Hassan's $31.4 million. Senate Leadership Fund is on air in New Hampshire to boost the GOP nominee -- attacking Hassan for voting with Biden and her support of her party's health care, tax and climate package. But because super PACs get much less favorable TV advertising rates than candidates, those millions won't go anywhere near as far as Hassan's dollars will.
A year ago, Republicans were still optimistic that Gov. Chris Sununu would run for Senate, giving them a popular abortion rights-supporting nominee in a state that's trended blue in recent federal elections. Bolduc told WMUR after his primary win that he'd vote against a national abortion ban. But ads from Hassan and Senate Majority PAC have seized on his suggestion in the same interview that the senator should "get over" the abortion issue. Republicans recognize that abortion is a salient factor in a state Biden carried by 7 points, but they also argue that the election -- as Bolduc said to WMUR -- will be about the economy and that Hassan is an unpopular and out-of-touch incumbent.
Hassan led Bolduc 49% to 41% among likely voters in a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The incumbent has consolidated Democratic support, but only 83% of Republicans said they were with Bolduc, the survey found. Still, some of those Republicans, like those who said they were undecided, could come home to the GOP nominee as the general election gets closer, which means Bolduc has room to grow. He'll need more than just Republicans to break his way, however, which is one reason he quickly pivoted on the key issue of whether the 2020 election was stolen days after he won the primary.
J.D. Vance (Republican) vs. Rep. Tim Ryan (Democrat)
Incumbent: Republican Rob Portman (retiring)
Ohio -- a state that twice voted for Trump by 8 points -- isn't supposed to be on this list at No. 8, above Florida, which backed the former President by much narrower margins. But it's at No. 8 for the second month in a row. Republican nominee J.D. Vance's poor fundraising has forced Senate Leadership Fund to redirect millions from other races to Ohio to shore him up and attack Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee who had the airwaves to himself all summer. The 10-term congressman has been working to distance himself from his party in most of his ads, frequently mentioning that he "voted with Trump on trade" and criticizing the "defund the police" movement. Vance is finally on the air, trying to poke some holes in Ryan's image.
But polling still shows a tight race with no clear leader. Ryan had an edge with independents in a recent Siena College/Spectrum News poll, which also showed that Vance -- Trump's pick for the nomination -- has more work to do to consolidate GOP support after an ugly May primary. Assuming he makes up that support and late undecided voters break his way, Vance will likely hold the advantage in the end given the Buckeye State's solidifying red lean.
Sen. Marco Rubio (Republican) vs. Rep. Val Demings (Democrat)
Democrats face an uphill battle against GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in an increasingly red-trending state, which Trump carried by about 3 points in 2020 -- nearly tripling his margin from four years earlier.
Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who easily won the party's nomination in August, is a strong candidate who has even outraised the GOP incumbent, but not by enough to seriously jeopardize his advantage. She's leaning into her background as the former Orlando police chief -- it features prominently in her advertising, in which she repeatedly rejects the idea of defunding the police. Still, Rubio has tried to tie her to the "radical left" in Washington to undercut her own law enforcement background.
Sen. Michael Bennet (Democrat) vs. Joe O'Dea (Republican)
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is no stranger to tough races. In 2016, he only won reelection by 6 points against an underfunded GOP challenger whom the national party had abandoned. Given GOP fundraising challenges in some of their top races, the party hasn't had the resources to seriously invest in the Centennial State this year.
But in his bid for a third full term, Bennet is up against a stronger challenger in businessman Joe O'Dea, who told CNN he disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. His wife and daughter star in his ads as he tries to cut a more moderate profile and vows not to vote the party line in Washington.
Bennet, however, is attacking O'Dea for voting for a failed 2020 state ballot measure to ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy and arguing that whatever O'Dea says about supporting abortion rights, he'd give McConnell "the majority he needs" to pass a national abortion ban.
The Grand Canyon State became ground zero for Trump's 2020 election conspiracy theories after voters there narrowly backed Biden and Trump-aligned state lawmakers later forced a deeply flawed partisan ballot review in Maricopa County that ultimately did not alter the outcome.
But that controversy has lingered, with Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (right) echoing Trump's falsehoods that the 2020 election was "corrupt" and "stolen." She has also stated that she would not have certified the 2020 election results in Arizona. Lake's Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who defended the state's election systems against the baseless fraud accusations, has cast the former news anchor as a dangerous threat to democracy.
Lake is focusing on her economic agenda in the campaign's final weeks and on her plans to address increased migration across the border -- including a promise to declare an "invasion" at the border to give the state greater power to address the issue. She also has accused Hobbs of cowardice for refusing to debate her. Hobbs has centered her campaign on abortion, arguing that her GOP opponent's extreme positions would endanger Arizona women.
The Hobbs-Lake race is one of five gubernatorial contests this cycle in which both major-party nominees are women. Up until this year, there had only been four such matchups in US history.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly seized on voter antipathy for state and national Republicans in 2018 to become governor of reliably red Kansas. Four years later, it may be anger aimed at her own party that dooms her reelection bid.
Kelly faces Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt in a state Trump won by 15 points in 2020. Schmidt has not impressed party officials with his campaign or his fundraising -- Kelly raised over $1.5 million from January to July, while her GOP opponent only brought in around $700,000 in that time frame. But Republicans are hopeful that Schmidt will benefit from the state's natural political tilt, which they're seizing on by tying Kelly to Biden at every turn.
Democrats got a boost this summer when a turnout surge helped defeat a ballot measure that would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion in the state. The victory -- with the "no" vote carrying nearly 60% of the vote -- invigorated Kansas Democrats and seemingly Kelly's reelection chances.
But Kelly has not exactly seized on abortion as an issue in her bid for a second term. On the campaign trail, she has largely focused on speaking about the economy, education and tax cuts, three more palatable issues for the independent and Republican-leaning voters she will need to defeat Schmidt.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak (left) faces fierce headwinds in a state that has seen some of the nation's highest inflation rates as well as frustration among blue-collar workers about the pace of the post-pandemic recovery. Many Nevadans in the tourism-reliant state were hit hard by pandemic-era closures and are now grappling with the high cost of gas and groceries.
Sisolak's opponent, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, has the backing of both the GOP establishment and Trump, though the Republican nominee has said he does not agree with the former President's false claim that the 2020 election was rigged. Lombardo has focused on kitchen table issues, including education and the expansion of school choice. He has blamed Biden and the Democrats for inflation -- and accused the governor of hampering the economic recovery by being overly restrictive with school and business closures during the pandemic.
Sisolak has defended his actions as necessary to save lives, but he has also attempted to distance himself from the unpopular President. The Democrat has also pounded Lombardo for a series of inconsistent statements on abortion, which is protected up to 24 weeks under Nevada law.
Sisolak has faulted his opponent for an uptick in crime in Clark County, home to Las Vegas. At a recent debate, Lombardo said that crime went down for six years of his tenure as sheriff but acknowledged it has increased in the past two years -- which he blamed on "soft on crime" policies advanced by the governor and Democratic lawmakers.
From Facebook, AP
An unpredictably close race between three well-funded women could culminate in Oregon electing its first Republican governor in 40 years.
Democrat Tina Kotek (left), the longest-serving state House Speaker in Oregon history, started out as the favorite to replace term-limited Gov. Kate Brown in the blue-leaning state. But independent candidate Betsy Johnson (center) has proved to be a formidable contender who Democrats fear could act as a spoiler in the race. A former Democratic state senator with two decades of legislative experience, Johnson has powerful allies in the business community who have made it possible for her to outraise her opponents. Johnson -- a gun rights advocate who relishes the fact that she is being attacked by the "woke left" and the "radical right" -- has blamed liberal Democratic policies for trash-lined streets and tent cities, as the state struggles with homelessness.
Johnson's candidacy has created a path for Republican Christine Drazan (right), the former state House minority leader, who is promising to bring "balance" back to Oregon while charging that all-Democratic control over the past decade has failed to hold the governor and the Legislature "to account."
Biden made a recent foray to the state to offer Kotek a fundraising assist.
Gov. Tony Evers' bid for reelection in one of the nation's most competitive states could hinge on what's most important to voters: abortion rights, which the Democrat has made his top focus in recent weeks, or the economy, which could benefit his Republican challenger, businessman Tim Michels.
Evers (left) recently called the state's GOP-led legislature into a special session, urging lawmakers to allow a Michigan-style referendum to undo the state's 1849 law that bans abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother. But Republicans gaveled in and out of session within 30 seconds, ignoring Evers' calls.
Michels, who won the GOP nomination in August buoyed by a Trump endorsement, has focused his campaign on crime and inflation. Republicans are blaming Evers for a 70% increase in homicides in Wisconsin from 2019 to 2021, and Michels has also criticized the governor's push to cut the state's prison population.
Wisconsin's elections have long been hard-fought: Biden defeated Trump there by about 20,000 votes out of more than 3.2 million cast in 2020, four years after Trump carried the state by a similar margin. Evers narrowly unseated GOP Gov. Scott Walker in 2018 but he faces a decidedly different political climate this year. As does his No. 2, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is challenging Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in one of the nation's most competitive and expensive contests.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) has made her support for abortion rights the centerpiece of her bid for a second term against Republican Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator.
Whitmer has positioned herself as the last line of defense for abortion rights in the state. She sued to block Michigan's 1931 ban from taking effect after the Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion rights protections in June. She is also backing a Michigan ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution.
Dixon won a wide-open GOP primary in August, benefiting from the financial backing of the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and a late endorsement from Trump. She has embraced Trump's lies about fraud in the 2020 election.
In recent weeks, Dixon has sought to shift the focus of the race from abortion to other cultural issues. She has proposed a measure that would ban transgender girls from competing in sports with the gender they identify with, as well as one modeled after a Florida law, which critics have dubbed "Don't Say Gay," that bans discussion of gender and sexuality issues with younger students in classrooms.
Dixon has also made implicit acknowledgements that the electorate is more closely aligned with Whitmer's position on abortion.
"You can vote for Gretchen Whitmer's position without having to vote for Gretchen Whitmer again," she told reporters recently, citing the abortion ballot measure.
Pool/AP, From Facebook/Mark Ronchetti
On paper, the New Mexico governor's race should not be competitive: Biden carried the state by double digits in 2020.
But if there is a red wave, Republicans hope former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti may be able to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former congresswoman seeking her second term in office.
Ronchetti has beaten expectations before. In 2020, as the GOP nominee for Senate, he outran Trump at the top of the ticket, losing by a closer-than-expected 6 points to Democrat Ben Ray Lujan (a distant relative of the governor).
In his bid for governor, Ronchetti has attempted to distance himself from the former President -- including by acknowledging that Biden won the 2020 election. He won a five-way GOP primary in June, finishing comfortably ahead of an opponent who had questioned his Republican credentials.
Ronchetti's campaign has focused on crime -- including one ad that a CNN fact check determined was deceptive -- and the decision to stop in-person schooling during the coronavirus pandemic. Lujan Grisham has cast herself as someone who has had to make tough decisions while panning her opponent's lack of political experience. These contours of the race were clear in their first debate last month.
"There has to be a change here — she hasn't taken crime seriously," Ronchetti said during the debate.
"Bold words from someone who's never even been to a legislative session," Lujan Grisham responded.
Less than a month before the election, Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (left) is enjoying a big lead in the polls -- and in fundraising -- over Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a hard-line conservative who led GOP efforts to overturn Biden's 2020 victory in the commonwealth.
Shapiro is a popular figure who, should he win as expected in November, will be on the radar of national Democrats thinking ahead to the party's next open presidential primary. Until then, though, his focus will be on defeating Mastriano, who is supported by Trump and chartered buses to Washington ahead of the former President's "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6, 2021. (Mastriano says he never entered the US Capitol and has not been charged with any crimes.)
Like a handful of other contests on this list, Pennsylvania is particularly important to Democrats because the state legislature is controlled by Republicans. And with abortion rights now resting with the states, a GOP governing trifecta could move forward with a ban or severe restrictions on the procedure. Mastriano has said he favors a total ban, with no exceptions.
Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania, up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, a standard Shapiro has vowed to support and uphold.
Before he can decide whether to run for president, Gov. Ron DeSantis (right) first faces a reelection test back home.
Those close to the Republican governor say he is looking to better Trump's 3.5-point victory two years ago in Florida -- a symbolic result that would signal DeSantis' readiness to potentially compete with the former President for the party's 2024 nomination.
Standing in the way is Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor and Democratic congressman whom Democrats have turned to once again try to take down a GOP incumbent. Democrats are not only hoping to slow DeSantis' rise; they're desperate to prove that Florida remains a swing state. Crist, though, has been hampered by sluggish fundraising and overall Democratic malaise in the Sunshine State, while DeSantis has broken campaign financing records as he taps into Republican excitement around his political stardom.
Crist's uphill climb was made that much harder by Hurricane Ian, a colossal and deadly storm that forced politics to the back burner as Floridians and their elected leaders -- including DeSantis -- dealt with the aftermath. Both candidates are reemerging on the campaign trail, but Crist lost several weeks when he could ill afford to.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their showdown four years ago. While the race remains competitive, Kemp finds himself in a better position than 2018, when Abrams lost by about 54,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast.
Coming after nearly two decades of GOP dominance in Georgia, Kemp's slim victory was a sign that the state was up for grabs. Two years later, Georgia narrowly voted blue in the presidential election for the first time since 1992 while Democrats flipped both US Senate seats in runoffs, in no small part due to Abrams's efforts to organize and mobilize minority and progressive voters in the Peach State.
Kemp drew Trump's ire in 2020 when he rebuffed his efforts to overturn Biden's victory in Georgia. But that stance earned Kemp an independent reputation, aided by a Trump-backed primary challenge that failed to take him down. Kemp remains a reliable conservative and has not shied away from helping enact Republican agenda items, including a far-reaching new elections overhaul and a six-week abortion ban that went into effect with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Abrams, meanwhile, is attempting to use her organizational and financial advantages -- she has outraised Kemp, thanks to a national donor network -- to draw attention to the governor's most conservative positions, from restricting abortion to opposing Medicaid expansion. But she has struggled to recapture the magic from four years earlier and has consistently run behind Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is seeking a full six-year term against embattled Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File
FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a mobile phone, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. Social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and Twitter say they're taking steps to prevent the spread of misinformation about voting and elections ahead of next month's midterm elections. Yet a look at some of the most popular platforms shows baseless claims about election fraud continue to flourish.