US midterm elections: The six races that could decide the US Senate – BBC

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Mark 8 November on your calendars: America's going to the polls again.
Control of the US Congress is up for grabs in these midterm elections, including 35 Senate races that will decide who calls the shots in the upper chamber.
Currently the Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties, with Democrats in charge because they can call on the vice-president to cast tie-breaking votes.
If Republicans flip even one Democrat-held seat, they will gain the power to thwart President Joe Biden's agenda.
Here's a guide to the six states to watch, and the drama unfolding there.
Two upset victories in this traditionally conservative southern state ultimately gave the Democrats control of the Senate after the 2020 election – and Georgia could prove pivotal again.
One of the winners was Raphael Warnock, 53, who became the state's first-ever black senator thanks to African American voters turning out in huge numbers. This time, Republicans have also nominated a black candidate, Herschel Walker, 60.
The two men both come from humble roots, but the paths they've taken – and their politics today – could not be more different. Senator Warnock is a Baptist preacher who rose to prominence as the senior pastor at Martin Luther King Jr's church. Mr Walker is an American football legend who was lured into the race by his old friend Donald Trump.
Walker's campaign has been plagued by a series of personal scandals – yet conservative voters appear to like his plea for redemption and his rejection of liberal policies.
Warnock hopes his campaign to protect abortion and voting rights will inspire liberals – but high inflation, a slowing economy and the unpopularity of President Joe Biden threaten his narrow lead.
If neither candidate gets 50% – a possibility because there is a third-party Libertarian candidate – then there will be a run-off election on 6 December.
Close contests have become the norm here. The last two presidential elections were each decided by barely 1% – and this Senate race could also come down to the wire.
Perhaps that's why it's got so personal. Or maybe it's because of the larger-than-life characters.
John Fetterman, 53, is the tattooed 6ft 8in (2m) Harvard-graduate-turned-small-town mayor who usually dresses in shorts and a hoodie. The progressive Democrat had a commanding lead until he suffered a stroke a few months ago that required him to use closed captioning technology to answer questions.
His Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz – best known to TV viewers as "Dr Oz" from the Oprah Winfrey Show – has capitalised, repeatedly challenging him to public debates and even suggesting Mr Fetterman would not be ill if he "had ever eaten a vegetable in his life".
In return, the Fetterman campaign has trolled the celebrity heart surgeon on social media as a carpetbagger from New Jersey, a peddler of disproven miracle cures and even a puppy killer.
Strap in for more election drama in this campaign's final stretch.
This is another race that experts are calling a "toss up" because it's too close to call right now.
Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won election to Congress in 2016 as the country's first ever Latina senator. Now she's viewed as the most at-risk candidate this year – and Latino voters may help sink her bid for re-election.
Democrats have been losing ground with Latinos in recent years – in part because many prefer conservative policies on abortion and immigration. But it's the struggling economy – the most important issue for every demographic – which is most damaging. Nevada, which relies so much on the riches generated in Las Vegas and Reno, was particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
Republicans are hoping voters punish the party in power. If they do, then Adam Laxalt, 44, could follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who both served in the Senate. He is endorsed by Mr Trump and backs the ex-president's unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
The state voted solidly Republican in two consecutive presidential elections, so this race was never supposed to be as close as it has been.
Democrats nominated Tim Ryan, 49, a 10-term lawmaker in the House of Representatives and 2020 presidential candidate.
Republicans nominated JD Vance, 38, a venture capitalist who achieved widespread fame with his best-selling 2016 memoir-turned-Netflix-film "Hillbilly Elegy".
Once a so-called "Never Trumper", Mr Vance now enthusiastically embraces Mr Trump – or as the former president described it: "JD is kissing my ass, he wants my support so bad!"
The novice politician has stumbled on the campaign trail and Mr Ryan, who once challenged Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership gavel in the House, has kept the pressure on.
Outside spending by Republican groups is keeping Mr Vance afloat in the final weeks of the campaign, assailing his opponent in adverts as a fake "moderate" who fully supports what they describe as the Democrat's radical agenda.
Mr Vance may well go on to win, but he will have to sweat to make it happen.
Nowhere have conspiracy theories about the 2020 election taken hold more strongly than in the Grand Canyon State.
The Republican candidate for Senate, Blake Masters, 36, openly pushes the so-called "Big Lie", that Trump actually won and the election result was stolen from him, as do the candidates for other key positions.
A self-professed "America First conservative" with a nationalist platform, he is fiercely critical of Big Tech, opposes US aid to Ukraine and has even called for a federal Bitcoin reserve.
Seeking to defend the Democratic-held seat is Mark Kelly, a former Nasa astronaut whose wife, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head in a near-fatal 2011 incident.
The couple have focused on gun control activism over the past decade as Ms Giffords slowly regains her ability to read, speak and walk. But Senator Kelly has been on the defensive over illegal immigration in this border state, rejecting Mr Masters' claim he supports "open borders".
Top Republican groups have avoided big spending on this race, due in part to the fringe views espoused by the Masters campaign, and Mr Kelly has maintained a lead since the summer.
In another sharply divided state where elections are decided on razor-thin margins, Democrats made this race their biggest target early on in the election cycle.
Party strategists salivated when Senator Ron Johnson, who had promised to retire as a lawmaker after his second term, changed his mind because "the country is in too much peril".
The Republican, 67, voted against certifying Joe Biden's 2020 election victory, downplays the riot at the US Capitol, and even once suggested gargling mouthwash to kill the coronavirus.
But Republicans argue it is the Democratic nominee Mandela Barnes, 35, whose positions are extreme. They cite the Wisconsin lieutenant governor's previous association with the far-left movement to defund police and abolish the agency that detains illegal immigrants.
Mr Barnes has sought to focus on Mr Johnson's anti-abortion views but it's the Republican who has momentum.
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