As the nation approaches Election Day 2024, the landscape of the U.S. Senate races is gradually shifting, albeit at a measured pace. With Democrats currently maintaining a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, three of their incumbents from traditionally red states face the challenge of securing re-election – Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, and Jon Tester in Montana, all of whom are pivotal to the Democratic Party’s hopes of retaining their majority.
This is the second analysis of the upcoming Senate races for 2024, with the first published in June. While the overall shape of the battle for Senate control remains consistent, some new developments have added complexity to a few key races.
Pennsylvania: The entry of Republican Dave McCormick, without significant primary competition, has made the reelection race for Democratic Sen. Bob Casey more competitive.
Montana: Tim Sheehy, a political newcomer, has gained favor among Republican leaders, though the primary competition is still a possibility.
Michigan: The addition of former Rep. Mike Rogers into the race has energized the GOP establishment, but a contested primary is anticipated.
Arizona: The candidacy of Kari Lake adds more uncertainty to the race, assuming that independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema chooses to run again.
New Jersey: Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s indictment and subsequent refusal to step down have prompted at least one serious primary challenger to emerge. The seat, although expected to remain Democratic, is not guaranteed should Menendez weather the primary storm.
Democrats continue to face the challenge of defending the eight most vulnerable Senate seats, with Arizona counting among them as Senator Sinema continues to caucus with the Democratic Party despite switching her party affiliation. In contrast, Republicans find themselves primarily playing on offense, with Texas and Florida being the only seats that appear remotely competitive.
The State-by-State Breakdown
Safe Republican: Indiana (open seat), Missouri (Josh Hawley), Mississippi (Roger Wicker), North Dakota (Kevin Cramer), Nebraska (Deb Fischer), Nebraska special election (Pete Ricketts), Tennessee (Marsha Blackburn), Utah (open seat), and Wyoming (John Barrasso).
Likely Republican: Florida – Republican Sen. Rick Scott faces a potentially competitive race against former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, but a crowded Democratic primary may pose challenges.
Texas – Republican Sen. Ted Cruz remains vulnerable, and the Democratic front-runner is charismatic Rep. Colin Allred. The Democratic primary is expected to be competitive and may result in a runoff.
West Virginia: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s reelection hopes largely depend on the outcome of the GOP primary, where Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney are the top contenders. The general election is expected to be competitive.
Ohio: Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown faces a credible GOP opponent in a state that has shifted increasingly red. The Republican primary features several strong contenders, making the outcome uncertain.
Montana: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is the sole statewide Democratic officeholder. The GOP newcomer, Tim Sheehy, has gained support, but the entry of Rep. Matt Rosendale into the race could complicate matters. The GOP nomination is still up in the air.
Arizona: Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s challenging relationship with Democrats has made her vulnerable in the general election, especially if she runs again. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is a top contender, while Kari Lake adds complexity to the Republican side.
Nevada: Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is preparing for a competitive race, and the outcome hinges on the GOP nominee. Sam Brown, who lost the 2022 Senate primary for Nevada’s other Senate seat, is a strong Republican candidate, but the competitive primary could weaken the winner’s position.
Pennsylvania: Democratic Sen. Bob Casey faces a credible Republican challenger, Dave McCormick. Polls indicate a competitive race with a slight edge for Casey. The final outcome will likely depend on the presidential contest.
Michigan: The open seat in Michigan is a battleground for Democrats. Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin is a strong candidate but must navigate a contested primary with several other contenders. The GOP field is still unsettled, but the entry of former Rep. Mike Rogers boosts their prospects.
Wisconsin: Incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin holds an edge in a state where she won comfortably in 2018. The unsettled GOP primary field is a significant factor, and a credible Republican candidate is yet to emerge.
New Jersey: Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s federal indictment and party disapproval have created uncertainty. Rep. Andy Kim is a prominent Democratic challenger, and Menendez faces the risk of a divided primary. On the GOP side, their chances largely depend on Menendez securing renomination.
Safe Democratic: California (open seat), Connecticut (Chris Murphy), Delaware (open seat), Hawaii (Mazie Hirono), Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren), Maryland (open seat), Maine (Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats), Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar), New Mexico (Martin Heinrich), New York (Kirsten Gillibrand), Rhode Island (Sheldon Whitehouse), Virginia (Tim Kaine), Vermont (Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats), and Washington state (Maria Cantwell).
The 2024 Senate races present a diverse and dynamic landscape with several states poised for competitive contests. The outcome in these races will be critical in shaping the future balance of power in the United States Senate, affecting national politics and policymaking for years to come.