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Senate rankings: Five seats most likely to flip

The battle for the 2024 Senate started with a bang earlier this year and hasn’t let up, as candidates in major races continue to roll out their campaigns and incumbents scratch and scramble to win re-election. Their efforts will determine who controls the upper house for the next two years.

Democrats are trying to hold on in a number of red-leaning states to keep their one-seat majority, while Republicans are fighting recruiting battles in several states to give them the best chance to win the majority.

While it’s too early to tell which partisan maneuvering will pay off, here’s a summer roundup of the five Senate seats most likely to flip next year.

West Virginia

The top spot in this ranking remains unchanged as Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) faces a real battle to retain his seat and secure a third full term in the Senate.

Republicans have been licking their chops at the possibility of ousting Manchin, and unlike in 2018, they appear to have their best candidate to do so in West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R). An East Carolina University (ECU) survey. released in late May shows Justice leading the centrist Democrat incumbent by more than 20 percentage points.

For Justice to get that far, he must overcome a potentially tricky challenge from Rep. Alex Mooney (RW.Va.), who has the support of conservative forces. The ECU poll also shows Justice with a 40-point lead over Mooney, though some of that lead is due to his big name ID.

Facing political challenges at home, Manchin has been on the offensive against President Biden’s string of nominations in recent months, having said he would oppose all of his nominees for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has voted against multiple judicial elections in recent weeks. He also opposed Biden’s pick for top economic adviser and is likely to oppose Julie Su’s nomination to lead the Labor Department, if it ever comes up for a vote.

Allies, however, say that’s not unusual at all and it’s just how it operates.

“The recent opposition is who it usually is. It reviews every nominee the same way,” said Jon Kott, a former Manchin spokesman, who noted what Manchin used to tell him about how he views nominees. “He would say, ‘I look at them and say, are they good for the state of West Virginia and good for the country?’

“I think it’s getting more scrutiny because it’s the political season,” Kott added.

Of course, Manchin has yet to announce whether he will even seek re-election, with a decision expected in December or shortly before the January filing deadline as he continues to flirt with a third-party presidential bid.


It was a big week in Big Sky when retired Navy SEAL-turned-entrepreneur Tim Sheehy threw his hat into the ring and gave Republicans their best hope to finally defeat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) next year.

Sheehy is among the top recruits this cycle for Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who is eager to unseat the three-term Montana Democrat. The newly minted GOP nominee has a lot going for him, highlighted by his business background, military service and bank account generosity — a trio that Republicans consider to be excellent.

Strategists argue that while they look great on paper, first-time millionaire candidates may have trouble resonating with voters. This was seen last cycle when David McCormick in Pennsylvania couldn’t escape the primaries and has since lamented that he didn’t find his sea legs until it was too late. Ironically, he’s also at the top of Daines’ wish list this year.

But for now, Republicans want high about Sheehy.

“Tester has proven to be tough and if we’re serious about winning the seat, we need to put up our best candidate,” a national GOP strategist told The Hill. “It’s pretty clear he doesn’t want to run against Sheehy, and that should tell you all you need to know.”

Sheehy will likely have to beat Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) in a primary, with Democrats hoping for a Tester-Rosendale rematch after the incumbent defeated him by 3.5 percentage points. Rosendale has a pocket of right-wing support and name recognition after multiple statewide runs, but has numerous issues, including unsavory fundraising and a Maryland accent that got him into trouble during his last term. candidacy for the Senate, to name a few.


Rounding out the trio of seats Republicans are most hopeful of flipping is the Buckeye State, where they likely have their best shot at beating Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Brown has proven to be a tough outing for Republicans in each of his re-election fights, which he won by 6 and 6 percentage points, respectively. However, Ohio has moved further to the right in that time, with former President Trump carrying the state by 8 percentage points in 2020, despite losing the election. Simply put, the most swing of swing states has turned redder than ever, but whether that will be enough to unseat Brown remains to be seen.

So far, only two top Republicans — state Sen. Matt Dolan and Bernie Moreno — have it advertised offerswith another likely to come of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R). LaRose is expected to jump into the race in July, an Ohio GOP source told The Hill, creating a tough three-way contest that will have several balls in the air.

Asked to predict a three-way primary, the Ohio GOP source said Moreno will likely win Trump’s endorsement and LaRose could have trouble raising funds, especially considering he’s the only one in the group which cannot be self-financed. as you have pointed out.

“Moreno is the favorite, but as a first-time candidate, he will probably make some mistakes,” the source said. “The question is, is it a sufficient opening for either of the other two?”


Of the states on this list, perhaps no race has changed less than the battle in Arizona, as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) remains the top choice for Democrats, Kari Lake is the likely choice for Republicans although he still has. to announce a run, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) has yet to shake hands and say whether she will seek re-election next year as an independent.

Gallego announced his candidacy in late January and has put himself in as good a spot as a Democrat can at this point. The Arizona Democrat posted a strong first-quarter fundraising haul of $3.7 million, outpacing Sinema by $1.6 million during that stretch and giving Democrats hope they can retain the seat next year it comes. He also got a boost on the left last week as former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed his bid.

“It looks like he’s doing what he needs to do. Head down. Building his brand,” a Democratic operative with Arizona ties told The Hill, noting that Gallego has so far avoided a close primary with Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) who declined to appear.

On the GOP side, all signs still point to Lake, who has effectively frozen the field until she decides whether to sink into the Senate while she falsely argues who is the “legal governor of Arizona” after her loss to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) in November.

However, Lake has taken steps toward a possible bid, having met with more than a handful of Republican senators during a visit to Washington in mid-May. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb has also entered the GOP primary.

Meanwhile, the wait continues for Sinema, who filed paperwork for a bid but has remained mum when asked in several interviews about his plans for 2024. His impact on the race remains a massive unknown as a three-way election battle opens doors never seen before in state races.

“It’s hard to say one way or the other,” the Democratic operative said of a three-way race.


Finally, Wisconsin is the only newcomer to the list as Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) tries to secure a third term and Republicans try to figure out who will be their best candidate to deny her another six years in office

Like the other Democratic incumbents mentioned above, Baldwin has proven to be a real challenge for Republicans in each of his Senate bids. After defeating former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) to win his seat in 2012, he followed it up with an impressive double-digit victory in 2018, giving Democrats another battle-tested member to lean on what could be a difficult cycle.

“What makes Baldwin incredibly hard to beat is that he puts in the work and has 15 winning campaigns to prove it,” said Joshua Karp, a Democratic operative who advised the campaign of Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) last year. . “Wisconsin is a state where people expect to have a personal relationship with their leaders and Baldwin puts the personal touch and it shows.”

Republicans have been wading through possible options. However, in recent weeks they’ve been dealt a blow as Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) announced he would seek re-election to the House and focus on his work at the helm of the recently China select committee created.

Now, they’re looking for a couple of self-funders to bring Baldwin.

Eric Hovde, a former hedge fund manager who narrowly lost the 2012 Senate primary to Thompson, is seen as the frontrunner as he would be buoyed by a massive war chest and experience campaigning in the whole state A Wisconsin GOP operative recently noted that Hovde has spent at least $20 million of his own money.

The second self-funder eyeing a career is entrepreneur Scott Mayer, who likely will make a decision after Labor Day. The downside: It has almost zero name recognition in the state. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) recently acknowledged that he doesn’t know Mayer very well either.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) is also considered an option, though he would have to give up his ruby ​​red seat to jump into the race.

What will be key to Republicans ousting Baldwin, however, will be outside forces. How will Biden fare in the state next year? And will the GOP nominate Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) or someone else next year? These are questions that will weigh heavily in the Senate race.

According to a new Marquette University Law Survey, DeSantis is stuck with Trump and would fare better in a one-on-one matchup against the president. That would give Republicans a better chance to keep the seat.

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