Could split tickets be a game changer in the midterms?

Elections 2022

This combination of file photos shows Democratic Senate candidate, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, left, and Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2022 photos. (AP Photo)

(NewsNation) — In tight races, moderate voters who don’t vote along party lines could make a big difference in election results.

Split-ticket voting happens when voters don’t vote all Democrat or all Republican on their ballot, instead choosing candidates from both parties as they vote for different races.

Moderate voters are more likely to split a ticket, and in key battleground states, those voters could be a big influence on the results.

Vanderbilt political science professor Josh Clinton said Pennsylvania is one state where election night results could be mixed.

“Enough people may split their ticket that at the end of the day in these close races you can see a Democrat elected to the governorship and a Republican to the Senate or vice versa,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of the most closely watched elections in 2022.

Some moderate Republicans in the state said they were voting for Oz for Senate, but not for gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who is seen as being further to the right.

Polling data backs up the prospect of mixed results, showing Oz ahead of Fetterman while Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro is leading against Mastriano.

Split-ticket voting has become less common in recent midterm elections. In 2016, every state that had a Senate race voted the same way as it did in the presidential election.

In Georgia, things are shaping up similarly. Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp‘s lead may not be enough to boost fellow Republican Herschel Walker‘s Senate run.

There are more than a dozen states where voters could potentially elect a governor from one party and a senator from the other.

Even a modest impact from split tickets could make a big difference in races that are nearly tied with less than a week to go before the election.

“We’re talking about 10 points of difference, which can be … the entire ballgame in some of these close states,” Clinton said.

Not all voters who plan to split their tickets are willing to share that publicly. That could make it a surprise factor on Tuesday when results start coming in.

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