2024: At-Risk Senate Seats Lean to The Right

The odds of the Democratic party holding onto the Senate in 2024 are frighteningly high against that outcome.

A new CNN story lists ten senate seats that may be up for grabs next year. Eight of them belong to Democrats; only two belong to Republicans.

Among the eight Democratic seats at risk, you have to include the one that belongs to Arizona’s once Democratic but now independent turncoat Kyrsten Sinema. The other eight include West Virginia’s Democrat in name only Joe Manchin, Joe Tester in Montana, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Nevada’s Jacky Rosen, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, and the seat that is currently occupied by Michigan’s retiring Debbie Stabenow. The two Republicans on the list are Ted Cruz in Texas and Rick Scott in Florida.

It’s going to be a long election night because we won’t know who owns America until all of these races are decided.

Summary: Out of these ten races, five, including West Virginia, Montana, Ohio, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, look good for the Democrats, if you consider Manchin a Democrat, but the two Republican seats in Texas and Florida are, alas, also safe next year. This leaves three states that are more or less up for grabs: Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Prognosis: It is absolutely essential that the Democrats sweep all seven of their at-risk states. If they lose even one of those states, they will lose control of the Senate. If the Republicans hold onto the House, win just one seat in the Senate, and move back into the White House, the American experiment will come to a dismal end. If Manchin returns to the Senate expect him to turn his coat and sit down with the Republicans if a Republican moves into the White House. This means that the Democrats absolutely must hold all seven of their at-risk seats and pick up one Republican senate seat. If the Democrats keep the Oval Office in the family, Manchin will not change sides because he will have more power as the Deciding Seat in the Senate if a Democrat is in the White House. which means the Dems must pick up one Senate seat. The chances of that happening are vanishingly low right now.

The handicapping of these races looks like this:

Arizona: No one understands Arizona, not even the people who live there. Sinema has burned her bridges with the Democratic party and it is a 50/50 guess whether the Democrats will retake her seat. As an independent, Sinema’s deep war chest won’t help much because she won’t have a party infrastructure to build her campaign upon. If Kari Lake throws her hat into the ring and wins the Republican nomination, the state will send a Democrat – any Democrat – to the Senate in 2024. Otherwise, this is an open horse race.

West Virginia: If Joe Manchin jumps into the presidential sweepstakes as a third-party long shot, his seat will be claimed by whichever Republican gets nominated because Manchin is the only Democrat who could win that seat again. Manchin is no idiot. He’s not going to give up a safe seat in the Senate for the impossible dream of winning the presidency but, because he is a Democrat in name only, that’s a pretty cold comfort for the Democrats.

Montana: Joe Tester has even less charisma than Joe Manchin, who doesn’t have much himself, but he is in his fourth term and has strong bona fides as a real-life Montana farmer who is politically savvy and has a nice big war chest. CNN calls this race the second-best chance the Republicans have to pick up a seat. They are wrong. Democrats win here.

Ohio: Sherrod Brown, another fourth-term Democrat, is a strong campaigner who has plenty of money, and national visibility, and is close enough to the middle of the road on lifestyle to squeak out one more victory. This state will follow the trend. If a Republican wins the White House, Sherrod will probably go down.

Nevada: Jacky Rosen is a relatively low-key first-term senator who hasn’t ruffled any feathers but has not made herself visible either. On the other hand, she’s a good fundraiser and Nevada’s younger average voters are trending Democratic. The Democrats will prevail here.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin is in the middle of an identity crisis. Once a liberal bastion, the state’s Nordic sensibilities have been subverted by influxes of right-wing coves from Confederate or, er, more conservative states. They returned GOP party hack Ron Johnson for a second term in 2022 despite his ties to the MAGA movement or, perhaps, because of them. Second-term Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin has no declared opponents in either the primaries or the general election mostly because no one seems to want to run against her but there are a couple of Deep Pocket Republicans who appear to be eyeing her seat. Mark this one Up For Grabs.

Pennsylvania: Democrat Bob Casey sure does look presidential. An international trade geek, Casey can campaign on his “get tough with China” stance and look even more presidential doing it. Another fourth-term Senator with a relatively high profile and possible future presidential ambitions, if there is a Democratic party left after 2024. Casey will come out snarling next year and probably win.

Michigan: Michigan used to be a solid Democratic state but things have changed. With Debbie Stabenow retiring, Democrats expect Representative Elissa Slotkin to defeat actor Hill Harper in the primaries, but this senate seat is a toss-up. Slotkin has not been a great fundraiser and Michigan may very well be the most expensive Senate in the country so, even though we don’t know who the Republicans will put up against her, this one is too close for anyone to call.

Texas: Okay, Ted Cruz is probably one of the least liked members of the Senate among his fellow senators and with his own electorate. He has gained a well-deserved reputation as a serious nut job, which is a real achievement in the GOP and he is facing one of two serious Democratic contenders who can outspend him and aren’t carrying his excess baggage. Nevertheless, this is Texas and, with Greg Abbott as governor, who knows what might happen next year? Too close to call.

Florida: This cuts close to home. I live in Florida and I am deeply embarrassed by both of Florida’s senators but, of the two, Marco Rubio is just plain stupid, while Rick Scott is a seriously malevolent personality who once led the company found guilty of the single most egregious Medicare fraud in the history of the program. He should never have been Florida’s governor, where he did huge great harm, and certainly should not returned to the Senate in 2024. Unfortunately for Democratic prospects in 2024, Scott can simply buy his seat back again with his private wealth but DeSantis might just weaken him by association, being the blunderful Republican incumbent in what used to be Rick Scott’s second home. No contest here.

I just wasted two hours writing this drivel. You just spent five minutes reading it. What is wrong with us?