If Donald Trump wins the presidency at the end of this year, he’s promised to enact a sweeping agenda of retribution and revenge. That agenda will be made much easier, and less reliant on executive actions and friendly courts, if he has a legislature that is willing to go along for the ride.
What Election Day could look like for the U.S. House remains unsettled; some states are still litigating redistricting disputes or drawing new maps. One state that significantly contributed to Republicans’ wins in 2022, New York, may have entirely new districts by November 2024.
In the Senate, however, we have a clearer picture going into this election year: almost all of the competitive seats are ones that Democrats are defending. A big one is West Virginia, where Joe Manchin is retiring. With Trump at the top of the ticket, Democrats’ chances of holding onto that seat seem vanishingly slim.
Here’s a look at states that stand to be particularly closely fought.
Ohio and Montana
Two popular, long-serving senators are up for reelection in states that in 2020 elected Trump by a wide margin. Both also may face challengers who are relatively unknown.
In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown is running for a fourth term. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a reliably Republican official, has been campaigning in the primary to run against Brown. Trump endorsed car dealership owner Bernie Moreno instead.
In Montana, Sen. John Tester is running for a fourth term. Tim Sheehy, a former Navy seal and CEO, is the party’s pick in the primary, though he’s never run for office before.
The big weird one. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, formerly a Democrat, is now, famously, an independent. And unlike other independents who caucus with the Democrats, Sinema has built a brand on flouting her former party, which drew her a Democratic challenger: Rep. Ruben Gallego. While Sinema’s switch garnered her headlines, it has not, apparently, garnered her the kind of political donations she enjoyed when she was affiliated with the Democrats.
Meanwhile, Republicans look to be on track to nominate failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake to run for Senate. Also running in the Republican primary is Mark Lamb, a big figure in the far-right constitutional sheriffs movement.
How this all plays out is anyone’s guess.
Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
All four of these states went for Biden in 2020. Sens. Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are all running for reelection; Michigan is an open seat following Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D) retirement. Of course, Biden’s past win does not mean any of these states are close to a sure thing for Democrats; Wisconsin, for example, reelected Sen. Ron Johnson in 2022 by a small margin. But all four look better for Dems than Ohio, Montana, and, maybe, whatever ends up going on in Arizona.
2024 is similar to 2022: Democrats are defending a lot of seats, and there are comparatively few — almost no — opportunities to knock off GOP senators. But in 2022, the Trump-boosted candidates Republicans selected — from Herschel Walker to Blake Masters to Dr. Oz — meant that Democrats not only held but expanded Senate control. Anything can happen!