The announcement Senate Democrats were dreading, and when it came, it appeared to knock a significant blow to their hopes of holding their razor-thin Senate majority in the 2024 elections.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced earlier this month that he had made one of the toughest decisions of his life. He would not be running for re-election to the United States Senate.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat and former governor, won over 60% of the vote in his 2012 re-election, but his margin of victory fell to just three points in 2018.
The consensus was that Manchin was the only Democrat who could win in West Virginia in 2024 after his state shifted dramatically to the right over the past decade. Former President Donald Trump carried West Virginia by nearly 40 points in the 2020 election.
Democrats possess the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a promising Senate map in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 open seats. West Virginia, Montana, and Ohio are three seats in red states that Trump carried in 2020.
Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, five other blue-held seats are in key swing states narrowly held by President Biden in 2020.
After Manchin’s announcement, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein claimed that Democrats have multiple pathways to protect and strengthen the Senate majority and are in a solid position to achieve that goal.
Berstein, pointing to what he called unpopular Republican incumbents, added, “In addition to defending our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida.”
Texas and Florida, where incumbent senators Ted Cruz and Rick Scott seek re-election, are potentially the only competitive GOP-held seats next year.
These five States are most likely to switch in 2024:
With Manchin not seeking re-election, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Sen. Steve Daines stated, “We like our odds in West Virginia.”
The Republican Senate primary is where the action is, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee and President Trump are endorsing former Democrat and current Republican Governor Jim Justice.
The first Democrat to enter the race following Manchin’s exit is 32-year-old Zachary Shrewsbury, a native West Virginian and Marine Corps veteran.
In the state that Trump assumed by 16 points three years ago, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester announced earlier this year that he would seek re-election in 2024.
Tim Sheehy, former Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient who conducted more than 200 missions in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and elsewhere around the globe, launched a Republican Senate bid in late June.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, a hard-right congressman, is also considering a bid.
Republicans will heavily target Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown Brown, the only member of his party to win a non-judicial, statewide election in Ohio in the past decade, as Ohio has shifted to red over the past six years.
Last year, Sen. JD Vance, Trump’s handpicked Senate candidate in Ohio, defeated longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by six points.
State Sen. Matt Dolan and Bernie Moreno, two Republicans who ran for Ohio’s 2022 GOP Senate nomination, are already in the race to unseat Brown.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose entered the race in July, launching a much-anticipated Senate campaign.
In battleground Arizona, the Senate race could be the most complicated of the 2024 cycle, with Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema seeming to gear up for a re-election campaign.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is already in the running.
Mark Lamb, Pinal County Sheriff, recently became the first major GOP contender to launch a campaign.
Kari Lake, the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee, immediately became the Republican front-runner when she joined the race in October.
The Keystone State, an annual general election battleground, will presumably live up to its reputation again in 2024 as it arguably holds one of the most competitive and costly Senate races nationwide.
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who served a decade as the state’s Auditor General and then Treasurer, is pursuing a fourth six-year term in office.
Republicans appear primarily united behind Dave McCormick, who’s making his second straight Senate run.
McCormick, a Gulf War combat veteran and Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration, was endorsed by the Pennsylvania GOP in late September, soon after he entered the race.