AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
Although conservatives are rightly celebratory in the wake of Republicans’ new House majority, the GOP’s failure to recapture the Senate has made the weeks following Election Day unexpectedly bittersweet after lofty predictions of a “red wave.” But with a highly favorable Senate map in 2024, the right conditions could put Republicans in a position to pick up as many as 11 seats in the upper chamber.
Come November 2024, Democrats will be forced to defend a whopping 23 incumbent seats—nearly half of their Senate caucus—including a number of vulnerable Democrats in swing states and traditional Republican strongholds.
Most notably, the GOP will have the chance to knock out incumbent Democrats Jon Tester from Montana, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and Sherrod Brown from Ohio – all states where other Republican statewide candidates have won handily in recent years. Donald Trump easily carried each state in 2020, beating Joe Biden by an eight percent margin in Ohio, 16.4 percent margin in Montana, and a staggering 38.9 percent margin in West Virginia.
Each endangered incumbent Democrat has also voted largely in lockstep with the historically unpopular Biden agenda—a pattern that is almost certain to become more noticeable to voters as 2024 draws closer. And in an environment in which Biden continues to face shockingly low approval ratings and the U.S. economy teeters on the brink of recession, conservatives have every reason to be confident in these impending red state showdowns.
But Republicans’ promising 2024 prospects extend well beyond these conservative enclaves. Also up for reelection next cycle is Arizona incumbent Kyrsten Sinema, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and in more of a long-shot chance for a GOP Senate pickup, Maine’s Independent Senator Angus King (who caucuses with the Democratic Party and has not yet committed to seeking another term in office). Given that Republicans came within striking distance of picking up Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (and retained a competitive seat in Wisconsin), the competitive nature of this year’s New Mexico gubernatorial race, and Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory to win the Virginia governor’s mansion in 2021, the GOP should feel bullish on their chances in many of these races.
Furthermore, Utah’s Republican Senator Mitt Romney—who remains detested by much of the GOP voting base and routinely votes against the interests of his party and his voters—is up for reelection in 2024 and is almost certain to face a brutal primary challenge. In West Virginia, Republican Congressman Alex Mooney has already declared his candidacy against Manchin, and other West Virginia Republicans are sure to follow suit. After the Georgia Senate runoff and the onset of the new year, more and more candidates are expected to announce their candidacies, bringing the 2024 campaign season into full swing and putting a large number of incumbent Democrats on the defensive.
Though it of course remains unlikely that Republicans will win every single one of the 11 in-play Senate seats and achieve a filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate majority, the fact remains that 2024 presents Republicans with their greatest chance in years to win a decisive Senate majority that—along with a Republican House and reliably conservative president—could at long last allow the party to enact some of its key policy goals and affect lasting and decisive change on the federal level.
Needless to say, the party has its work cut out for it before GOP leaders and operatives can get too confident about their 2024 prospects. This year’s elections showed conservatives that, until they can get serious about finding ways to combat the left’s use of mail-in ballots, drop boxes, and ballot harvesting to rig elections in their favor, they will continue to struggle in key races.
But if Republicans play their cards right and use the next two years to ensure they are competing on a level playing field with the left – and are selecting strong candidates – November 5, 2024 could prove to be a decisive day for the American conservative movement.
Whether the GOP machine chooses to seize the moment and make the most of this key once-in-a-generation opportunity, however, remains to be seen.
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