While Democrats pulled off a better than expected night on the Nov. 8 midterm elections, the party will face tremendous headwinds in maintaining their razor-thin Senate majority come 2024. Democrats will be defending 23 of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs next cycle. Of their 23 seats up for election, seven are in states won by former President Donald Trump in either 2016 or 2020.
Opportunities for Democrats to flip Republican-held seats are less encouraging. Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s seat is considered one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities in 2024, along with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s Texas seat. Both senators won by narrow margins in 2018.
While Florida has been swing state territory in the past, Republicans won big in the Sunshine State on Election Day 2022. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decisive victory, flipping historically blue counties like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, suggests Florida is increasingly Republican ground — not to mention Sen. Marco Rubio’s 16-point win over Democrat Val Demings.
In the next election cycle, the GOP will not be defending any seat in a state won by President Biden — unlike the 2022 midterms where the most competitive races were in states Biden won: Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.
Here is where Republicans eye big pickup opportunities in the Senate next cycle.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, perhaps the most vulnerable senator in 2024, has not yet announced his re-election intentions. Then-President Trump won the state by a whopping 39 percentage points in the 2020 election, making this seat ripe for a Republican pickup.
Manchin played an instrumental role in getting the Inflation Reduction Act across the finish line and may face a political price for his perceived capitulation in a predominantly working-class state with one of the leading coal industries in the nation.
Rep. Alex Mooney, the five-term West Virginia congressman, announced his intent to run for the Senate seat just a week after the midterm elections.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has also been eyeing Manchin’s seat for some time, and hinted that he was considering running again. He narrowly lost to Manchin in the state’s 2018 Senate race by just 3 percentage points.
Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown
Ohio is increasingly becoming solid Republican territory. Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020, and JD Vance won his Senate race this year by a 7-point margin, despite an underwhelming performance from Republicans elsewhere in the 2022 midterm elections.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, first elected in 2006 and currently the only Democratic statewide office-holder, announced he would seek re-election last week.
Republican State Sen. Matt Dolan, who challenged Vance in the GOP primary earlier this year, has hinted at a possible run against the Democratic senator, though Dolan has not committed to a run officially, telling Fox News Digital he’s still ‘thinking about it.’
Sources told Fox News Digital in December that though Dolan has not made a final decision, he has taken steps to prepare for a potential run, expanding his donor pool and securing senior staff for his campaign and PAC.
‘Are we as a party looking forward or backwards? And I want to be a part of the Republican Party that is looking forward,’ Dolan told Fox News Digital, echoing sentiments from former Vice President Mike Pence this week, who blames the GOP’s lacklust midterms performance on his party’s hyper-focus on ‘relitigating the last election.’
Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester
Sen. Jon Tester, the three-term Democratic senator from Montana, is up for re-election in 2024. Though he won’t make a final determination on whether to run again until early next year, he told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that he ‘feels good about his chances’ in a December interview.
Tester’s seat is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrat-held seats in 2024. Montana overwhelmingly voted for Trump by +16 points in 2020 and saw a string of GOP victories in the 2022 midterm elections.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, who has represented Montana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2021, ran for Senate against Tester in 2018 and lost by a narrow margin. Rosendale has communicated interest in a rematch with Tester, but has not yet announced his candidacy.
Rep. Ryan Zinke, elected to Montana’s 1st Congressional District in 2022, has also hinted interest in the seat, but will decide on a Senate run some time in 2023, he said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Arizona independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will be up for re-election in Arizona. An unabashed centrist and staunch defender of the filibuster, Sinema has, along with Manchin, exercised outsized influence in the Senate throughout Biden’s first two years in office.
In December, Sinema sent shock waves through the political world when she announced her departure from the Democratic Party, registering as an independent. In the wake of her defection, the Arizona senator has insisted her voting behavior in the Senate will remain unchanged, but her re-election prospects remain uncertain.
Sinema’s propensity to rein in the Biden agenda has earned the senator pushback from members of the Democratic Party in the past. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., in an appearance on MSNBC, said the Arizona senator has ‘done nothing’ for Democrats.
Gallego is expected to run in the Democratic primary, though the congressman plans to make a final decision in 2023. In December, Gallego took a step towards a potential Senate bid, hiring GBAO Strategies, a Democratic polling firm connected with a number of midterm victories — notably, the campaigns of Sen.-elect John Fetterman, D-Penn., and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.
Arizona has become a key swing state in recent elections. It was won by Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, though Democrats’ narrow victories in the midterm elections suggest a hard-fought battle is on the horizon for the Senate seat.