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Image: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes is introduced during a televised debate on Oct. 13, 2022, in Milwaukee.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes is introduced during a televised debate on Oct. 13, 2022, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash / AP

Midterm elections roundup: Two liberal tests in key Senate races

New polling continues to show Senate races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin tight as progressives look to flip key seats.

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The stakes are high for progressives in two key Senate races that could decide control of the Senate — in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

As NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald, Jonathan Allen and Natasha Korecki write, Democrats in both states went with more progressive choices in Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman over more moderate candidates, hopeful that populism and an energized base will help the party flip two key Senate seats. 

But Republicans see their more liberal views, particularly on crime, as fertile ground to repel swing voters from voting blue in November. 

A pair of new CNN polls show how close these races are — both within the error margins. Fetterman leads Republican Mehmet Oz 51% to 45%, while the Wisconsin rate is a dead heat, with Barnes at 49% and Johnson at 50%. The new polls also come as Fetterman and Oz are set to face off in a highly anticipated debate.

Read more about the stakes in these races not just for Senate control, but in the intraparty fight that’s dogged Democrats for years, on

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Georgia Senate: Republican Herschel Walker kicked off a North Georgia tour featuring controversial GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. And the AP reports that Walker’s business may have benefitted “from the unpaid labor of drug offenders.”

Georgia Governor/Senate: Women Speak Out PAC, which is aligned with the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, is going up with a $1 million television buy criticizing the Dem nominees for Senate and governor on abortion from the right, per a press release.  

Florida Governor: In yet another chilly debate this cycle (say nothing for Democrat Charlie Crist’s signature fan!), Crist and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis sparred on issues including immigration, abortion and whether DeSantis has eyes for the White House. 

Michigan Governor: Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leads Republican Tudor Dixon by 6 points among likely voters, 52% to 46%, in a new CNN poll

Pennsylvania Governor: Another new CNN poll of likely voters finds Democrat Josh Shapiro leading Republican Doug Mastriano, 56% to 41%. Crime has been a top issue in the race, and Shapiro told NBC10’s Lauren Mayk that he believes he has made people safer as attorney general and touted his law enforcement endorsements.

Wisconsin Governor: CNN poll of Wisconsin’s governor’s race shows a close race with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers at 50% and Republican Tim Michels at 48% among likely voters. 

Iowa-01: Defending Main Street super PAC is going up with a six-figure radio ad attacking Democrat Christina Bohannan, and boosting Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. 

New Hampshire-01: Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Karoline Leavitt in her bid against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. 

New York-17: The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter now classifies Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s race as a “toss up,” as Politico reports that the DCCC is launching a hybrid ad buy there and Axios reports the NRCC is upping their ad spending there too.