Since January 2021, Democrats have held the smallest majority possible in the US Senate; the upper chamber is evenly split between the two parties, with a few independents caucusing with Democrats. They only hold a majority over the GOP because of Vice President Kamala Harris, who can break any tie votes if needed.
Voters in some states are just beginning to cast ballots in the 2022 midterm elections. Whichever way the vote count plays out in November, the majority is likely to remain razor-thin. Still, the 2024 elections are already in discussion. Who will run, who won’t, and who will control the upper chamber come January 2025? If Democratic leaders quit or retire, it could swing the odds heavily in favor of Republicans.
How Many Democrats May Quit in 2024?
In the current election cycle, the Senate’s balance faces a tossup. So, what are the chances of the GOP flipping the upper chamber in November? Fourteen Democratic-controlled seats are up for re-election, as opposed to 21 for Republicans. According to The Cook Political Report, it breaks down as follows:
- 9 are safely Democratic
- 16 are likely or solid Republican
- 3 each lean Democrat and Republican
- 4 are rated as tossups and could go either way
If Republicans manage to net one seat, they will become the majority party in January.
So, what are the prospects looking ahead?
In 2024, Democrats may be staring down a barrel. In that election cycle, they need to defend 23 seats compared to 10 for the GOP. Many of them are in either red or purple states, and to make matters worse for the Left, at least eight are debating whether to run or retire.
Who Might Drop Out?
Voters tend to favor incumbents. Yet, when one retires, a seat could be highly competitive for each party, depending on who voters nominate in a primary contest. According to POLITICO, a few senators say they are waiting until after the midterm elections to announce their intentions, but some Democrats in Trump country may have a hard time winning this time around.
Two of the most consequential contests may occur in Montana and West Virginia. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) could face stiff headwinds. While they usually win in their respective red states, it might be tough sledding. In 2020, former President Donald Trump won Montana by 16 points and West Virginia by 39 points. In each state, the other US Senator is a Republican. Manchin remains elusive about his intentions, and Tester told Politico he’d decide after the 2022 midterm elections.
Democrats could also find re-election challenging in numerous battleground states. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) may face a stiff challenge from Republicans in Ohio. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will also likely go up against a bruising primary from the Left in a centrist state if she runs for re-election. In Virginia, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is raising a lot of money but won’t say until after the midterms what he will do one way or the other.