OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
While Democrats have a very slim 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate, keeping or expanding it next year is looking increasingly daunting for President Joe Biden’s party.
According to Newsweek, the election map for the Senate looks even bleaker after West Virginia Moderate Dem Sen. Joe Manchin announced he won’t be seeking reelection, though he was expected to face an uphill battle against GOP Gov. Jim Justice, who is seen as popular in the Mountaineer State.
“The senator’s decision adds further pressure to Democrats, who are likely to struggle to retain control of the Senate next year as they are confronted with a difficult election,” Newsweek noted further, adding:
Six Democratic senators are facing reelection in states that former President Donald Trump won at least once in the last two presidential elections—including the crucial swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, while President Joe Biden is once again seeking the Democratic nomination. There are no Republican senators facing reelection in states that Trump lost in either of the last two presidential elections.
When Trump beat two-time presidential loser Hillary Clinton in 2016, there were 34 Senate races, all won by the party that won the presidency in that state. In 2020, when Joe Biden won, his party won in 34 of 35 states.
“Democrats have multiple pathways to protect and strengthen our Senate majority and are in a strong position to achieve this goal,” David Bergstein, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) communications director, told Newsweek earlier this week.
“In addition to defending our battle-tested incumbents, we’ve already expanded the battleground map to Texas and Florida, where formidable Democratic candidates are outraising unpopular Republican incumbents, and the DSCC is making investments to lay the groundwork for our campaigns’ victories,” Bergstein added.
In Arizona, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in 2022 to become an independent, will likely will face a Republican and Democratic challenger if she decides to run again. She has filed to do so but has not yet announced an official bid. Trump won the state in 2016 and Biden in 2020.
The same is true for Michigan, where Democrats will try to hang onto a seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is retiring. She was reelected in 2018, but only with 52.3 percent of the vote.
In Montana, traditionally a red state, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is running for reelection, and Republicans believe they have a good opportunity to flip his seat. He only narrowly won reelection in 2018 with just over 50 percent of the vote.
“Once considered a swing state and a bellwether for presidential elections, in recent years Ohio has been solidly Republican,” Newsweek reported. “However, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown is seeking a fourth term in 2024 after he was reelected in 2018 with 53.4 percent of the vote in the increasingly red state.”
Both he and Tester are seeking reelection when Trump is on the ballot, a motivating factor for GOP voters who could ensure their careers are cut short.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is seeking a fourth term after winning reelection in 2018 with 55.7 percent of the vote. Having Trump on the ballot, however, will make it harder for him; Republican J.D. Vance is the state’s junior senator.
In Wisconsin, “Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is up for reelection in 2024, and she’ll be seeking a third term. Baldwin was reelected in 2018 with 55.4 percent of the vote,” Newsweek added.
What will also make Democrats’ jobs harder is polling showing Trump is leading President Biden in many of the same swing states.
One new poll shows that only 39 percent of voters in four key swing states—Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina—have confidence in the president’s ability to handle the economy, RealClearPolitics reported.