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Bolling: Who Will Win the U.S. Senate in 2024?

We all know that 2024 is an important presidential election year, but the balance of power in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will also be up for grabs.

In the House, Republicans hold a slim 221-213 majority, and there will be numerous House races across the country that will determine whether or not Republicans can remain in control for another two years. More on that later.

But in the U.S. Senate, the key races are much more predictable. Democrats currently hold an effective 51-49 majority in the Senate, but 2024 may be the year Republicans can once again take control of the Senate, assuming of course that they don’t screw it up, which they are fully capable of doing.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 races that will likely determine the balance of power in the Senate:

Arizona – The incumbent Senator in Arizona is Democrat turned Independent Krysten Sinema. If Sinema seeks reelection (she has yet to decide), she will likely face opposition from both a Democrat and a Republican. This could create an opening for the GOP in a state they have not had much luck in recently. However, the likely Republican candidate, Kari Lake, who is a Donald Trump acolyte, lost the race for Governor in 2022. Lake has proven to be a divisive far right wing figure in a moderate state, and whether or not she can pull off the upset remains to be seen. Her chances may be better in a race with both a Democrat and Independent challenger, but we will have to wait to see how the final line up in Arizona takes shape.

Florida – Democrats always get excited about Florida, but it has become increasingly Republican in recent years. This year Republican incumbent Rick Scott is running for reelection against Democrat Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Democrats think they can make this a competitive race, but they also thought that in 2022 when Senator Marco Rubio won reelection by 16 points. Scott will be favored.

Michigan – Democrat incumbent Debbie Stabenow is retiring. The likely candidates here appear to be Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin and former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers. This could be a competitive race, but unfortunately for the GOP, Michigan is a fairly reliable Democratic state. Could it be in play in 2024? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

Montana – Democrat incumbent John Tester is set to face off against Republican Tim Sheehy, a businessman, aviator, and former military officer. (While there are other GOP candidates running, Sheehy appears to be the likely Republican nominee.) This will be a race to watch. Montana is usually a reliably red state in national politics, but Tester has shown an uncanny ability to win over Montanans who otherwise vote Republican. Can he do it again? Time will tell, but this is a targeted race for the GOP.

Nevada – Democrat incumbent Jacky Rosen is seeking reelection. There are several potential GOP challengers, and the Republican primary will not be held until June. Nevada is a state in which Republicans can be competitive, but whether they nominate a candidate who can defeat Rosen remains to be seen.

Ohio – Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown will be seeking reelection. Ohio elected a new Republican U.S. Senator in 2022, which gives Republicans hope that they may do it again in 2024. However, there are multiple Republicans seeking the GOP nomination, so we will have to wait and see who wins the nomination contest and how they stack up against Brown.

Pennsylvania – Democrat incumbent Bob Casey is set to seek reelection against Republican David McCormick, a former hedge fund manager. Republicans always get excited about winning in Pennsylvania, just like Democrats do in Florida, but they are seldom able to pull it off. Witness the 2022 debacle when Republican Memet Oz was defeated by now U.S. Senator John Fetterman.

Texas – This is another pipe dream for Democrats. Incumbent Republican Ted Cruz is running for reelection against Rep. Colin Allred. (There are other Democratic candidates, but Allred appears to be the front runner.) As in Florida, Democrats always think they can somehow pull off the upset in Texas, but it typically has reminded a reliable Republican state. I think it will do so again in 2024.

West Virginia – Incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin has announced that he will not seek reelection. Republicans will likely nominate current Governor Jim Justice. No matter who the Democrats nominate, this race is over before it starts. West Virginia has become one of the most dependably Republican states in the nation. Go ahead and chock this up as a pickup for Republicans.

Wisconsin – Democrat incumbent Tammy Baldwin is running for reelection. Wisconsin is a state that can be somewhat competitive, but as of this writing Republicans have not been able to find a major candidate to oppose Baldwin. Time will tell if they can.

As you can see from this run down, the electoral map in 2024 favors Republicans. They are almost guaranteed a pickup in West Virginia, and they only need to win one other contested state to win the Senate majority. Their best chances may be in Arizona and Montana. They might be able to pull it off, but with the presidential race totally unpredictable, you never know what might happen in some of these key swing states. Voter turnout will be decisive.

I know some of you will ask, “What about Virginia?” Honestly, forget it. Incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine is running for reelection, and he will win easily. There are at least 12 candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run against Kaine, but none of them are credible candidates. There may be one or two competitive House races in Virginia this year, but that’s about it.