Profile pictures of US Senate Nevada candidates Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt from BallotPedia

Welcome to the race for the US Senate seat for Nevada! This race pits the incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat who has served in the US Senate since 2017, against the challenger Adam Laxalt, a Republican who previously served as the state’s attorney general from 2015 to 2019.

Nevada is a purple state, which means it switches back and forth between the two major parties for federal and state politicians (for example: the state has elected 28 US Senators, 14 Democrats and 14 Republicans!). But more than that, Nevada is a bellwether state. For more than 100 years, Nevada has voted for the winning US presidential candidate in all but two elections: Gerald Ford in 1976 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. This record means that Nevada voters have their fingers on the pulse of the United States in a way that’s worth paying attention to. The current Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, won her US Senate seat after the retirement of Harry Reid, the long-serving Democratic Senator and Majority/Minority Leader of his party. So her seat has been controlled by the Democrats since 1987! But she finds herself in a toss-up race with Adam Paul Laxalt, the state’s former Attorney General. In an interesting twist, Laxalt’s grandfather, Paul Laxalt, previously held this Senate seat from 1974 to 1987, when he retired. Will the grandson reclaim his grandfather’s political office? Or will the first Latina elected to the US Senate win her first reelection campaign? 

An important note for this election season: Traditionally, the “party in power,” defined as the party in charge of the US presidency (which this year is the Democratic Party), loses seats in the midterm elections. But the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 has shifted momentum toward the Democrats (see 538 and NYT analysis at these links). The race in Nevada is one of the top nine Senate races to watch in the 2022 election, and its outcome will help determine which party controls the US Senate in January 2023.  



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Relevant news stories:

  • Podcast, “Nevada Democrats Are Vulnerable This Fall,” FiveThirtyEight, June 13, 2022
  • Video / transcript, “Meet The Nevada GOP Candidates Who Support Trump’s Big Lie,” FiveThirtyEight, June 14, 2022
  • Article, “Nevada Senator Hopes History Repeats as She Faces a Hard-Right Rival,” New York Times, June 16, 2022
  • Article, “Election 2022: Nevada’s high-stakes US Senate race promises to be fight for nonpartisan voters,” Associated Press, June 21, 2022
  • Article, “Incumbent Democrats lead GOP hopefuls in fundraising in high-stakes Nevada election,” Associated Press, July 19, 2022
  • Article, “Laxalt consistently ignoring ‘Cortez’ in Nevada senator’s last name,” Las Vegas Sun, August 14, 2022
  • Article, “’Our best opportunity’: Republicans pose serious threat to Cortez Masto in Nevada,” NBC News, September 12, 2022
  • Article, “Proposed U.S. abortion ban puts issue in spotlight for Nevada midterms,” Las Vegas Sun, September 15, 2022
  • Article, “GOP candidates vow to protect abortion rights in Nevada,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 19, 2022
  • Podcast: “Nevada’s abortion rights supporters, anti-abortion advocates talk push to regulate anti-abortion centers,” KNPR State of Nevada, September 20, 2022
  • Article: “Drought in Western US heats up as a Senate campaign issue,” Las Vegas Sun, September 21, 2022
  • Article, “Latino Voters Shifted Right in 2020. What Does That Mean for Arizona and Nevada This Year?” FiveThirtyEight, September 21, 2022