Last updated February 27, 2023
By John Isaacs
After the 2022 Senate elections when an anticipated red wave two years into President Joe Biden’s term turned into a red trickle, Senate Democrats increased their majority by one seat while Republicans narrowly won a majority in the House of Representatives.
By all accounts, the 2024 Senate elections will be tilted toward Republicans simply by the numbers: Democrats have 23 seats up for reelection, including two independents who caucus with them and one who was elected as a Democrat, compared to only 11 Republican Senators.
All 11 Republicans represent states with current GOP majorities who probably have little to fear for reelection while Democrats will face longer odds in several states that former President Donald Trump carried back in 2020.
Even Republican Senators who faced difficult campaigns in 2018, such as Ted Cruz in Texas and Rick Scott in Florida, look to have easier campaigns next year after their states swung hard to the right in 2022.
However, political analyst Larry Sabato has pointed out that no sitting senator of either party has lost a primary in any of the last 5 regular elections — they were undefeated for renomination in 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022.
Eleven Republican-held Seats on the Ballot in 2024
- John Barrasso (WY)
- Marsha Blackburn (TN)
- Mike Braun (IN)
- Kevin Cramer (ND)
- Ted Cruz (TX)
- Deb Fischer (NE)
- Josh Hawley (MO)
- Mitt Romney (UT)
- Pete Ricketts (NE)
- Rick Scott (FL)
- Roger Wicker (KS)
The national media has issued foreboding forecasts for Democrats: the New York Times wrote about “Democrats’ daunting 2024 Senate map.” Politico Nightly concluded, “Democrats prepare for the Senate map from hell.”
One of the many imponderables in 2024 will be the race for President. Will it be Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump once again, or will Biden announce his retirement and Trump be overtaken by another GOP candidate? Presidential outcomes can have a major impact on races further down the ballot.
Another key unknown at this time is how many incumbents will announce they will retire after 2024. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein(D) have said they will not run again. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) has declared he will run for Governor rather than seek reelection to the Senate. Others may still decide to run for another office or leave politics completely.
20 Democratic and 3 Independent-held Seats on the Ballot in 2024
- Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Ben Cardin (D-MD)
- Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Bob Casey (D-PA)
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Angus King (I-ME)
- Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
- Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)
- Jon Tester (D-MT)
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
The Most Competitive Democratic Or Open Democratic Seats
Arizona: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) stunned the political world in December by renouncing the Democratic Party and becoming an independent. A Nate Silver poll at the time showed her with a 37% favorable rating and 54% unfavorable. She will face a strong Democratic candidate, Rep. Ruben Gallego and a Republican candidate will emerge. Arizona is definitely a purple state; President Biden carried it in 2020 49.4%-49.1% while Sen. Mark Kelly won reelection in 2022 by about five points. A three-way general election is highly likely and very unpredictable. Two Republicans, both election deniers who lost 2022 elections, former T.V. newscaster Kari Lake and former venture capitalist Blake Master, are considering running for Senate in 2024.
California: With Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s announced retirement, this overwhelmingly Democratic state faces a complex primary. At this point, three U.S. Representatives are running: Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Katie Porter (D-CA-47) and Adam Schiff (D-CA-30). Other candidates are likely to enter the contest. In the California primary, the top two finishers regardless of party will face off in the general election. In 2016, two Democrats, including now Vice President Kamala Harris, faced each other in November.
Maryland: 79-year old Sen. Ben Cardin (D) has not indicated whether he will run for reelection. Should he retire, expect a host of candidates in this very Democratic state.
Michigan: Michigan’s Democratic Party made historic gains in 2022, taking full control of state government for the first time since 1983. Biden won the state 51%-48%. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was elected to this seat in 2000 and was most recently reelected in 2018 by 52%-46%. However, Stabenow announced that she would not seek reelection in 2024. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-7) has announced she will run for the seat, while others who may be considering the contest include Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), and the state attorney general Dana Nessel (D). Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI-3), who lost a close primary last year, might run.
Montana: Trump won the state 57-43% while Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) was reelected in 2018 50-47%. Tester, who is running again, is battle-tested and has won multiple times in deep red territory. He has a 60% approval and 30% disapproval rate. Both of the Big Sky Country’s current members in the House of Representatives, Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke, are considering challenging Tester. Rosendale lost to Tester in 2018 and Zinke served as Trump’s Interior Secretary. Tester runs ahead of both candidates in early polls.
Nevada: Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) won her seat in 2016 by defeating a GOP incumbent, Sen. Dean Heller. In 2022, Nevada hosted the closest Senate race, with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto winning by fewer than 8,000 votes. Biden vs. Trump was also close, with Biden winning 50%-48%. Democrats won three of the hard-fought House elections in 2022.
New Jersey: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) easily won reelection in 2018 by 11 points, a year after he survived a federal corruption trial, but he is reportedly under investigation again for a separate matter. He could face a strong challenge.
Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is the last Democrat elected statewide in a state turning more toward Republicans. He runs as a progressive populist and won his last race 53-47%. Trump won the state 53%-45%. Republicans began running attack ads against Brown in January 2023. Rep. Tim Ryan (D) modeled his 2022 Senate campaign after Brown’s but fell short against author J.D. Vance. Matt Dolan, a former state representative whose family owns Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians and participated in the 2022 GOP Senate primary, is running for the GOP nomination. He finished third in the primary.
Pennsylvania: In 2018, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) won easily 56-43%, the first Democratic senator from Pennsylvania to win three terms and the first person to win six statewide elections in Pennsylvania. While Biden carried the state by a narrow 50%-49%, the lone Democratic Senate pickup in 2022 was John Fetterman’s victory in the Keystone State. Democrats also handily turned back a MAGA Republican to elect Governor Josh Shapiro. In 2018. Republicans are hoping that David McCormick, who lost narrowly to Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Senate primary in 2022, will run. Also considering the race is state Treasurer Stacey Garrity (R).
Virginia: While there was nervousness in Democratic ranks whether Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) would run for reelection, in January the incumbent announced he will run for a third time. He will be heavily favored.
West Virginia: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has skillfully managed to survive in this very Republican state, most recently 50%-46%. In 2020, Donald Trump won the state 68%-30% and Manchin was returned in 2018 to the Senate 50%-46%. Manchin, who has not yet announced whether he is running for another term, is battle tested in a state that has long departed from its Democratic roots. Manchin already has an official Republican challenger, Rep. Alex Mooney, but other candidates such as Gov. Jim Justice, who is term limited, could run. An early poll showed Manchin ahead of Mooney and behind Justice.
Wisconsin: The Badger State split its votes in 2022, with Democrats winning the governor’s mansion and Republicans the Senate seat. It is a closely divided state, with Biden beating Trump 50%-49% in 2020. First elected in 2012, Baldwin won reelection in 2018 by a strong 55%-45% and is favored to win reelection. No Republicans have yet declared.
The Most Competitive Democratic Or Open Republican Seats
Indiana: With Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) running for governor, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-3) is favored to take the seat. He has the backing of the deep pocketed Club for Growth.
Florida: Since Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) barely won in 2018 against an incumbent Democratic Senator – he finished ahead by about 10,000 votes out of eight million – since then the state has turned sharply to the right. In 2022, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) easily won reelection by 16 points. But Scott challenged GOP leader Mitch McConnell for Majority Leader and failed and also failed to produce a Senate GOP majority as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare became a target for President Biden in his State of the Union address. Scott could escape a strong challenge, but former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D) may step into the contest.
Missouri: Controversial Senator Josh Hawley is running for reelection and will be heavily favored. But he will get a vigorous challenge from 13-year Marine veteran Lucus Kunce, a lawyer and the director of national security at the American Economic Liberties Project. Kunce ran for Senate in 2022, but lost in the Democratic primary.
Utah: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has not yet announced whether he will run for reelection. A moderate Republican, he voted twice to impeach President Donald Trump and refused to endorse his fellow Senator Mike Lee (R) up for reelection in 2022. Romney could be vulnerable to a Republican primary challenger.