This is an update on the 2024 U.S. senate elections
cycle. Twenty-three seats of incumbent Democrats
and eleven Republican seats will be on the ballot,
and partisan control is very much at stake.
From the outset of this cycle, political analysts
noted that about eight seats held by Democrats
and one seat held by Republicans were likely to be
competitive. This suggested that the GOP, at least
on paper, had a distinct advantage to regain control
of the body which currently has a 51-49 lead for the
In recent weeks, this advantage has seemed to
increase because of three main factors.
First, Democrat Joe Manchin, the incumbent in
West Virginia announced his retirement, making
that seat almost certain to go to likely GOP nominee
Jim Justice and a pick-up.
Second, another retiring senator, Democrat Debbie
Stabenow (Michigan), and the party-switch of
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) to independent
has made those two races very competitive. In
Michigan, likely Democrat nominee Elissa Slotkin
currently leads likely GOP nominee Mike Rogers by
only two points. In Arizona, a likely three-way race
(including now-independent Sinema) is too close to
Third, in contrast to 2022 when an expected “red
wave” failed to occur, and GOP hopes to win control
failed, the quality of the Republican candidates
appears to be significantly improved. This has been
the deliberate effort of GOP senate campaign chair
Steve Daines who took an active role in recruiting
strong conservative candidates in the competitive
races. These include Tim Sheehey in Montana,
David McCormick in Pennsylvania, Sam Brown in
Nevada, and Mike Rogers in Michigan. The eventual
GOP nominee, following a spring, 2024 primary in
Ohio, also is likely to be very competitive against
incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.
In Wisconsin, the incumbent Democrat Tammy
Baldwin is potentially vulnerable, but a likely GOP
nominee has not yet emerged.
Incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey
has recently been indicted, and although he says he
is running in 2024, another Democrat is likely to be
nominated. Normally, this is a safe seat, and is likely
to remain with a Democratic senator, but the contest
could attract a major Republican to make this a more
Another “safe” incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine is
favored to win re-election, but his state Virginia has
become more purple. If Republican Hung Cao wins
his primary, the race could be close.
Democrats have high hopes to pick up a seat in Texas
where GOP incumbent Ted Cruz is considered
vulnerable. Collin Allred is the likely liberal nominee
against Cruz, and the race could be tight.
Although Florida GOP incumbent Rick Scott is
generally considered likely to win re-election, the
races in this state are often close, and a strong
Democrat might make the contest competitive.
Several GOP senate primaries are still months away,
and thus some uncertainty remains in the Arizona,
Michigan and Ohio races. The presidential election
could also play a role in the down-ballot U.S. senate
races. It is interesting to note that GOP frontrunner
Donald Trump, whose 2020 senate endorsed
candidates did poorly, is making few endorsements
for 2024. Likewise, Democrat senate candidates seem
in no hurry for endorsement from President Joe
Biden who despite his likely renomination remains
low in the polls.
The first primaries for U.S. senate, house, governor and
president are only weeks away. The national election
of 2024, as elections past, will be determined by
turnout. Republicans, as noted above have a clear
advantage in their quest to regain control of the U.S.
senate, but as 2020 illustrated so painfully for them,
they have a fundamental challenge of getting their
voters to the polls if they hope to win.
Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.