TThe 2024 Senate map is starting to take shape, putting Democrats on the defensive as the party tries to defend its slim majority in the upper chamber while facing re-election challenges in several reliably red states that supported the former president Donald Trump in 2020.
There are a total of 34 Senate seats up for grabs in the 2024 election cycle. Of those, Democrats must defend 23, compared to just 11 for Republicans. The circumstances put Republicans in a strong position to flip some crucial Senate seats that could easily shift the current balance of power in the upper chamber.
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Democrats currently hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, with the advantage of having Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote if needed.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Democratic Caucus, Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
As a result, Republicans only need to flip one Senate seat to win the majority if they win back the White House in 2024. If they don’t win back the Oval Office, the party only needs to pick up two additional Senate seats.
“As difficult as it may be, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a path for Democrats to hold onto the majority, however narrow it may be,” wrote Jessica Taylor, political analyst at the Cook Political Report. “They would probably have to win the presidency and essentially run the table in all their races, allowing themselves to lose only one. They would probably also need a way to widen the map, forcing Republicans to spend money elsewhere to defend the incumbents instead of offending.”
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report released its first race rankings for the 2024 Senate playing field, with just three states ranked as tight ends, including Arizona, West Virginia and Ohio. All three are held by Democrats, with the exception of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who announced in December that she was leaving the party.
Those ratings put Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in tight spots, as the two Democratic incumbents will have to defend their seats in states Trump won by 39 and 8 percentage points in 2020 , respectively. .
Democrats also have to defend five more seats that the Cook Political Report has called “Democratic lean,” including Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Three of those, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are also key presidential battleground states that President Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020 after turning them blue.
Montana is also likely to be a tight race as Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) seeks re-election in the reliably red state that Biden lost by 16 points in 2020. However, the Democratic incumbent benefits from ‘60% approval rating and has been easily re-elected twice since taking office in 2007.
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Elsewhere on the 2024 map, there are 15 seats considered “solidly Democratic,” including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Another 10 seats are considered “solid Republican,” including Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and both seats in Nebraska. One Senate seat, held by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), is considered “likely Republican.”