CNN  — 

There’s nothing like a Supreme Court vacancy to get people in Washington talking about the Senate.

It’s less clear, however, whether the voters who will decide control of the Senate nine months from now are attuned to that conversation, especially since the ideological makeup of the court is not in the balance.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision to retire came as President Joe Biden’s approval rating stood at 42%, with 55% disapproving, according to CNN’s average of six recent national polls. The best scenario for Democrats is that the vacancy and Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman will help drive base enthusiasm and remind moderates who care about abortion rights, for example, of what’s at stake in the battle for the Senate. But that may be a lot of theoretical dot-connecting for most Americans preoccupied with high prices at the pump and the checkout line.

Still, the seat most likely to flip partisan control is the place where Democrats see the Supreme Court vacancy as having perhaps the biggest impact. That’s not a new development: Pennsylvania has led the list since CNN started ranking the 2022 races nearly a year ago. But it speaks to the demographics Democrats need to turn out in the Keystone State – their urban base and suburban voters.

The ranking is based on CNN’s reporting and fundraising data, as well as historical data about how states and candidates have performed. Fundraising reports for the fourth quarter of 2021, which were due to the Federal Election Commission by Monday, showed some Democrats raising massive sums of money, while some Republican candidates poured significant personal wealth into their campaigns. As the year progresses, more polling and advertising spending data will become bigger factors in the ranking.

While Pennsylvania still leads the list, Republicans are feeling more confident about the seat, which GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is vacating, than they have in months, thanks to some new candidates. But it remains a question, as is the case in several other races, how much embracing former President Donald Trump in the primary comes back to haunt the eventual GOP nominee in the general election in a state Biden won in 2020.

As he resumes his campaign-style rallies, with a heavy focus on his 2020 election lies, Trump is signaling that he won’t be sitting 2022 out quietly, even if he’s not on the ballot. The jockeying for his support has already led to massive spending – especially in Pennsylvania, where the GOP primary has attracted $18 million, mostly in December and January alone, according to a CNN analysis of AdImpact data.

“I still say it’s 50-50,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN’s Manu Raju last week about the GOP’s chances of flipping the chamber.

The Kentucky Republican backed the bipartisan infrastructure law, one of Biden’s biggest achievements to date, but he’s standing in the way (along with two moderate Democrats) of the President’s other priorities, such as his social spending and climate change plan and voting rights legislation, both of which stalled in the Senate.

Vulnerable Democratic incumbents on this list – Sens. Mark Kelly, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan and Raphael Warnock – all voted in favor of eliminating the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. While taking that position has become a new litmus test of sorts in Democratic primaries (again, see Pennsylvania), and some Republicans are attacking Democrats over it, it’s far from clear that the fate of the 60-vote threshold is a salient issue for American voters.

There’s been plenty of effort to get voters’ attention. Candidates and outside groups have already spent twice as much on TV and radio ads as they had at similar points in the 2018 and 2020 cycles, according to a CNN analysis of AdImpact data.

Look for that spending to increase quickly ahead of spring primaries, with the first big Senate contest of the year (Ohio) happening on May 3. Until then, stay tuned for more updates to this ranking.

Here are the top 10 Senate seats most likely to flip as of this month:

1. Pennsylvania

Incumbent: Republican Pat Toomey (retiring)

Pat Toomey 10 senate seats

Pennsylvania remains the seat most likely to flip, although Republicans feel better about holding retiring Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat now that the Trump-backed candidate is out of the race and several new candidates have jumped in.

“We have an embarrassment of riches,” McConnell told Raju in late January. The biggest new name is hedge fund executive David McCormick. A former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration who lived in Connecticut for years, McCormick has rolled out ads trying to convince voters that “his Pennsylvania roots will keep him grounded.” He’s the husband of Dina Powell McCormick, who was Trump’s deputy national security adviser. Sean Parnell, the Trump endorsee who suspended his campaign after a public custody battle that was generating worrisome headlines for the GOP, quickly backed McCormick, as did Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who recently rallied with him in the state.

McCormick and his allies are already in a sniping contest with Dr. Mehmet Oz, who entered the race late last fall and had loaned his campaign more than $5 million, according to his recent FEC filing. Honor Pennsylvania, an anti-Oz group, is attacking the former talk show host as a “Hollywood liberal.” (Like McCormick, Oz recently lived out of state, in New Jersey.) American Leadership Action, a pro-Oz group, is going after McCormick’s business record, as is Oz’s campaign.

There were already Republicans running here – allies of businessman Jeff Bartos, for example, are attacking the two newcomers as carpetbaggers – and Carla Sands, who was ambassador to Denmark under Trump, loaned her campaign another $500,000 in the fourth quarter.

While Democrats are enjoying watching Republicans duke it out, they have their own crowded primary. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is still the fundraising leader, raising $2.7 million in the fourth quarter. Rep. Conor Lamb – who, like Fetterman, is from the western part of the state – has picked up some labor endorsements and the backing of the mayor of Philadelphia. He finished ahead of the other candidates in a state party committee vote last weekend but fell short of the threshold for an endorsement.

2. Georgia

Incumbent: Democrat Raphael Warnock

Sen Raphael Warnock 10 senate seats

After winning a special election runoff last winter that helped flip the Senate, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock never slowed down. He raised $9.8 million in the fourth quarter as he seeks a full six-year term in November. Only a sum like that could make the nearly $5.4 million that Republican challenger Herschel Walker raised seem paltry. Since Biden won the state in 2020, Georgia has remained one of the most interesting political battlegrounds that’s also home to a high-profile gubernatorial race and is ground zero for the fight for voting rights, which Democrats hope could energize turnout on their side. With the national spotlight on his state, Warnock isn’t likely to be hurting for money anytime soon.

And while staggering Democratic fundraising hasn’t always translated to success (see South Carolina in 2020 or Texas in 2018), public polling suggests this race is competitive. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed no clear leader, with Walker at 49% and Warnock at 48% among registered voters. Republicans are feeling confident about this race now that McConnell and Trump are united behind Walker, even if the former NFL star remains largely untested as a candidate, and because the national environment has looked increasingly strong for them. Biden’s job approval rating in the Peach State in that Quinnipiac poll, for example, was 36%. But Democrats take heart that Warnock’s job approval was a higher 47%. With Senate races so nationalized these days, Warnock will need to continue to overperform Biden – as he did in 2021 – if he’s going to survive in November, regardless of how many millions he raises.

3. Wisconsin

Incumbent: Republican Ron Johnson

Sen Ron Johnson

The big news here is GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is running for reelection, which reassured Republicans and enthused Democrats. Republicans are glad to be avoiding another messy primary, and they’re thankful Johnson didn’t wait even longer to make his announcement. In a video explaining his decision, Johnson says he intended for his current term to be his last but cannot “walk away” after seeing “the Democrats in total control.”

Democrats, however, are thrilled that Johnson – who has continued to make controversial and misleading statements about Covid-19 and January 6 – is running. They believe he’s a damaged enough incumbent that it will be easier to flip this seat with him in it than if he weren’t. Senate Majority PAC, the preeminent Democratic super PAC, quickly attacked Johnson for being “deep in the swamp.” Johnson’s announcement also prompted the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to launch its first TV ad of the cycle, hitting him for “looking out for himself.”

Republicans think a strong national environment will help them hold on to this seat, especially if they can paint the eventual Democratic nominee as too far left for the state, which backed Biden by less than a point in 2020. They’re excited about the prospect of running against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, for example, who has the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Barnes raised $1.2 million in the fourth quarter – which is more than Johnson’s $711,000 but lower than some Democratic challengers across the country. And he faces a crowded primary, including Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who loaned his campaign about $1.5 million in the fourth quarter and has been running a series of ads on TV.

4. Arizona

Incumbent: Democrat Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly AZ 1103

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, like Warnock in Georgia, continues to post impressive fundraising numbers as he runs for a full six-year term in November. Kelly raised nearly $9 million in the last quarter. That, on its own, should put Republicans on notice in an increasingly purple state that Biden narrowly won in 2020. But unlike Georgia, where the GOP has largely coalesced around one candidate, Republicans here face a real headache with a messy candidate field ahead of the August primary. There have been renewed rumors about Gov. Doug Ducey running, which would please McConnell and national Republicans, but he’s a frequent target of Trump and doesn’t appear to have made any moves ahead of the April filing deadline.

That leaves Attorney General Mark Brnovich, whose fundraising continues to be underwhelming (he raised about $800,000 last quarter) and venture capitalist Blake Masters, among several others, duking it out. Masters raised nearly $1.6 million, but he also has the advantage of a Peter Thiel-backed super PAC touting him as a “Trump conservative.” Based on the advertising in the state – which has already crept past $30 million, according to CNN’s analysis of AdImpact data as of Friday – Republicans are leaning into the Trump loyalty contest. Solar energy entrepreneur Jim Lamon, for example, who loaned his campaign $3 million in the fourth quarter, is going all-in on Trump’s claims of a rigged election.

Regardless of their nominee, Republicans think it’s a winnable race, especially if the national environment continues to look bleak for Biden and other Democrats, and they’re eager to go after Kelly’s voting record and exploit the differences between him and his more moderate Democratic Arizona colleague, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

5. Nevada

Incumbent: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto

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