The Democratic Senate Fate Map

Michigan Senator Gary Peters no longer wanted to be chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Maybe it’s because he can see the 2024 Senate map.

Even though nearly every competitive race went the way Senate Democrats needed last fall, in the 118th Congress they enjoy only a frail 51-49 majority. Plus, they had three big things going for them halfway through: a favorable map, a shocking batch of shoddy GOP opponents, and a Supreme Court decision that reinvigorated left-wing activists across the country.

As important as those three factors were in the Democratic Senate’s wins, the most important was the map — and that will be dramatically different in the next cycle.

In 2024, almost half of the Democratic caucus – 23 senators – is up for re-election. Of these, 8 are considered vulnerable: 5 in battleground states (Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia) and the other 3 in staunchly red states (Ohio, Montana, West Virginia). Republicans, on the other hand, have only 11 senators up for reelection in the 2024 cycle, and all of them represent the states Trump won in 2020.

Retirements could also be coming for Dem incumbents. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey revealed his diagnosis of prostate cancer earlier this month, and he has since declined to comment on his plans for 2024 before “turning the corner” on treatment. The Washington Post‘s Liz Goodwin noted, “Ten of the senators who caucus with Democrats who are re-elected in two years are over 70.” Some of those senators, such as Dianne Feinstein of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, represent solidly Democratic states, but that won’t protect the party from chaos and damaging intraparty unrest if one of their seats becomes vacant.

So even though it’s early and the election is unpredictable, the map’s calculations are hard to deny: Republicans have a much better chance of taking control of the Senate than Democrats of retaining it in 2024.

In an interview with the New York Times Last month, Peters was candid about winning the Democrats in 2022. Along with repeating conventional wisdom about hard work, fundraising and a strong field game, he also shared what he sees as the his party’s secret weapon.

“The No. 1 factor for us to hold and expand the majority was the quality of our candidates, especially compared to the quality of the opposition,” Peters said. Implicit in the assessment is former President Donald Trump’s role in promoting losing GOP candidates to the Senate, a key factor on which Peters and Senate Minority Leader Mitch “Candidate Quality” McConnell agree. Peters also said Dobbs vs. Jacksonthe decision annulling Roe vs. Wade which the Supreme Court handed down four and a half months before the election, was “incredibly important” because it “got people angry” and “anger is a powerful motivator”.

But those conditions cannot be replicated in 2024. Anyone looking for lessons in 2022 that Senate Democrats could reasonably apply to 2024 — lessons, that is, beyond the boilerplate on hard work, fundraising and ground play – is likely to come up. short.

Candidates who ran some of the worst GOP campaigns of 2022 in purple states — Herschel Walker in Georgia, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania and Blake Masters in Arizona — would likely win if they ran those same campaigns in red states as Democrats must defend in 2024. And the Supreme Court won’t make a decision comparable to striking down fifty years of reproductive rights laws anytime soon.

So what can Democrats do to improve their odds? They need some sort of rising tide. Pretty early too. The Democrats’ outlook for 2024 looks much better on the House side. If they regain control of the House but lose the Senate, Inside the elections guru Stuart Rothenberg reported, this would be the first time already that the House and Senate both swung simultaneously, “putting the ‘excluded’ party back in control in each chamber”.

But the 2024 marquee race will not be part of any of those House or Senate races. This will be the presidential election of 2024. A great presidential campaign can raise Senate races; a wrong one can cause the House and Senate contests to fail. (See: The Trump Effect.)

However, the cloud of questions buzzing around Joe Biden’s candidacy: Is he ready, willing and able to run for re-election? what if he doesn’t? – makes it nearly impossible to cripple 2024 at the moment.

Perhaps that is why Senator Peters changed his mind and decided to chair the DSCC for another term. The possibilities for 2024 are wide open, and the American electorate loves to challenge conventional wisdom.