At Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg makes the case that 9 states will decide which party can claim victory in the 2024 elections. Rothenberg identifies “the nine states that in November will decide (1) the presidential contest, (2) the fight for the Senate, and (3) the fight for control of the House of Representatives.”
In the presidential contest,
Three Great Lakes states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and three Southern/Sunbelt toss-ups (Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada) are likely to pick the next president of the United States.
Donald Trump carried five of the six states in 2016 (losing only Nevada), while Joe Biden carried all six four years later. The margins in all those states, in both 2016 and 2020, were extremely narrow, and most nonpartisan handicappers expect they will be close again this November.
Rothenberg adds “Two other states are worth watching but aren’t likely to be as crucial: New Hampshire (carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020) and North Carolina (carried by Trump twice). Two states that divide their Electoral College votes by congressional district (Maine and Nebraska) merit your attention, as well. But none of those states come close to being as decisive as the Big Six.
As for the Senate,
“this year’s map strongly favors Republicans. Democrats (and independents who caucus with Democrats) sit in 23 seats that are up in November, while Republicans defend a mere 11 Senate seats this year….At least seven Democratic-held Senate seats are in play. Four of them are also in states that are crucial in the presidential contest: including Michigan (retiring Debbie Stabenow’s open seat), Nevada (Jackie Rosen), Pennsylvania (Bob Casey), and Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin)…. Three of them are in reliably Republican states: Montana (Jon Tester), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), and West Virginia (Joe Manchin III), which is certain to flip to the GOP now that Manchin is retiring.
Also at risk is the seat of one independent who caucuses with the Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Sinema has not announced whether she will run for reelection (most likely as an independent). If she does, Arizona will likely have a three-way race in the fall.
Montana and Ohio stand out because of their conservatism and strong support of Trump in the last two presidential elections. But Tester and Brown have won in difficult circumstances before, and they survived during Trump’s 2018 midterm election (when Republicans picked up two seats) by delivering populist messages that appealed to working-class voters….Also at risk is the seat of one independent who caucuses with the Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Sinema has not announced whether she will run for reelection (most likely as an independent). If she does, Arizona will likely have a three-way race in the fall.”
In House races, Rothenberg notes
“most states won’t have competitive contests next year. But due to extensive redistricting in New York state and court-ordered new districts that could elect a few more minority members, Democrats could add House seats in November….The Empire State has at least six Republican-held seats that look to be at risk later this year, a number large enough to determine whether Democrats can flip the chamber and make House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries the new speaker in 2025.”
Rothenberg concludes, “If you really want to identify the voters most likely to pick the next president, you can forget about strong partisans from competitive states. It’s swing voters from the swingiest states, like Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, who will really matter if the race for the White House is close.”