by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If Democrats can hold on to slim leads in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania this November, they will barely maintain their current 50-50 control of the Senate (all thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking 51st vote).
But looking ahead to 2024, the odds of the Democrats keeping the Senate look even slimmer.
Heading into 2022, Democrats had to defend a lot of seats, but mostly on friendly ground. Of the 14 seats the Democrats had to defend, only one (Georgia) was in a state carried by President Donald Trump in 2020. Arizona hasn’t gone Republican since 2014, and Nevada hasn’t gone Republican since 2004, but if we throw those states in, that is just three possible losses the Democrats faced this cycle (and it does look like they are going to lose Nevada).
Looking ahead to 2024, the Democrats are on much unfriendlier ground. They will be defending 23 seats in 2024, three in states won by Trump in 2016 and 2020, as well as three states that swung between Trump and President Joe Biden.
The red-state seats Democrats have to defend include Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin, in particular, should be worried since his approval rating has fallen from a once-strong 57% before he voted for Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to just 26% now.
The swing states Democrats have to defend include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
That is six tough elections, and Democrats would have to win them all just to keep a 50-50 hold in the Senate. And that doesn’t even include the races in Nevada (Sen. Jacky Rosen) and Arizona (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema), both states that have proved to be very competitive in 2022.