This article was written well ahead of scheduled publishing in order to accommodate my travel plans.
Today is the Georgia Senate runoff election so almost every political junkie will be talking about the Senate. I’m going to do it too but with a different twist. I want to take my first look at the 2024 Senate races as they stand at the moment. I think that when all the dust settles in the Peach State Raphael Warnock will be returned to the Senate and the Democrats will control the chamber 51-49. In any event the Democrats will have the Senate; the question is if they can keep it.
33 seats will be up in 2024, 23 of their current occupants caucus with the Democrats. (21 Democrats along with independents Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont). 10 are occupied by Republicans. Just based on the raw numbers it favors the Republicans. From the viewpoint of a progressive it gets worse.
There is no obvious target seat for the Democrats to flip. None of the 10 are in a blue or purple state. The only one I can see possibly retiring is Mitt Romney in Utah. Should he retire, that seat would most likely remain in Republican hands. There is only an extreme outside chance that Evan McMullin would mount another independent campaign, be successful and then caucus with the Democrats.
Other flip opportunities – and I use that phrase very, very loosely – are Deb Fisher in Nebraska, Josh Hawley in Missouri and Rick Scott in Florida. If those are your best options, I don’t like your chances!
There is a possibility that Hawley or Ted Cruz of Texas ends up being the GOP standard bearer in 2024 but even then, flipping either Missouri or Texas is a very tall order.
Remember the Presidency and with it the Vice Presidency is on the ballot in 2024 so there is no up front guarantee of who would control a 50-50 Senate. Therefore, if the Senate is 51-49 going into the election, and I don’t think the Democrats can flip a Republican seat, the Democrats would have to hold all 23 seats to ensure control of the upper chamber. That won’t be easy!
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Robert Casey (Pennsylvania), Jon Tester (Montana), Jackie Rosen (Nevada) and Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) are all up in swing states. As we saw in 2022 keeping those seats will be expensive and that means less money to “finance” a flip effort. I have to think Cheri Beasley (North Carolina) and/or Tim Ryan (Ohio) may have won in 2022 if they had more money behind them.
It wouldn’t be surprise me to see Diane Feinstein retire but California should stay blue. In fact, her retirement might almost guarantee that. Sanders is perhaps the most interesting case. He could run for president or retire. Again, while the chances aren’t as good as they are in California, I feel that seat would ultimately stay blue.
I expect Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren to test the presidential waters if Joe Biden doesn’t run but I think both would drop out and run for reelection unless they looked real good early. Massachusetts would almost certainly stay blue with or without Warren but Minnesota is much less of a certainty sans Amy.
If all that wasn’t enough, I have two “wild cards”. Both Democratic “problem children” Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are up. If you are controlling the Democratic purse strings how much do you want to back them? If you are a major surrogate, do you campaign for them? Keep in mind I don’t think Sinema will switch parties in any event, but I feel Manchin will if the Republicans take the Senate and they let him keep his committee chair.
Regardless of what happens today – or whenever they finish counting in Georgia – the Democrats have control of the next Senate. The question is can they keep control of the one after that.
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