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Four states where parties look to bounce back better in 2024

Blaming midterm losses on bad candidates is bipartisan

California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom won reelection in 2022 but by a smaller margin than Joe Biden carried the state by in 2020.
California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom won reelection in 2022 but by a smaller margin than Joe Biden carried the state by in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — It can’t be any worse than 2022. That’s the bipartisan sentiment about a handful of states that Republicans and Democrats believe are going to perform much better for their candidates in 2024. 

GOP House strategists are confident that the top of the ticket will be stronger in Pennsylvania and Michigan compared to last year’s midterms, while Democratic House strategists believe presidential turnout in New York and California will give them an extra boost next year. 

And all the jockeying is taking place with the backdrop of a competitive fight for the House majority. Democrats need a net gain of just five seats to regain control. More than a quarter of the races rated as competitive by Inside Elections reside in four states where Republicans or Democrats are banking on a bounce in their favor.

Red rebounds

Pennsylvania: Republicans are convinced they’d have done better in the Keystone State without Doug Mastriano dragging down the ticket from the top of the ballot in 2022. Republican Mehmet Oz’s loss in the Senate race didn’t help, either. Mastriano lost the gubernatorial race by 15 points, 57 percent to 42 percent, against Democrat Josh Shapiro. That’s a far cry from President Donald Trump’s narrow 1-point loss to Joe Biden, 50 percent to 49 percent. 

Even if Trump, or another GOP nominee, doesn’t win Pennsylvania in 2024, Republicans expect the race to be competitive and give them a better opportunity to knock off Democratic Reps. Chris Deluzio in western Pennsylvania’s 17th District (where Biden won with 52 percent in 2020), Susan Wild in southeast Pennsylvania’s 7th District (where Biden won with less than 50 percent), and Matt Cartwright in northeast Pennsylvania’s 8th District, where Trump won with 51 percent. 

Michigan: Even though Republicans are reticent to admit that abortion access muted their gains nationwide in 2022, they are sober about the negative impact of an abortion ballot measure in the Wolverine State last cycle. Proposal 3 passed overwhelmingly, 57 percent to 43 percent, and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won reelection by nearly 11 points. 

Republicans are certain the environment will be better for them in Michigan in 2024 — something closer to Trump’s narrow 3-point loss in 2020. That would give the GOP a better opportunity to take over Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s open 7th District seat, defeat Rep. Hillary Scholten in the 3rd District, and maybe put a scare into Rep. Dan Kildee in the 8th District. Biden won the 7th and 8th with 49 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in 2020. 

Blue bounces

New York: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul won election to a full term in 2022, but in an underwhelming fashion. Her 6-point victory is the source of plenty of consternation from House Democrats, who blame Hochul for a handful of losses down ballot. 

Considering Biden won the Empire State by 23 points in 2020, Democrats are expecting a much stronger ticket next year. Under the current map, that would give Democrats a better opportunity to win a half-dozen seats that Biden won in the last presidential race. GOP Reps. Nick LaLota (1st District), George Santos (3rd), Anthony D’Esposito (4th), Mike Lawler (17th), Marc Molinaro (19th) and Brandon Williams (22nd) are all vulnerable in 2024.  

California: It’s no surprise that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom won reelection in 2022, but Democrats expected him to win by more than 18 points. Biden won the Golden State by 29 points in 2020, which is closer to Democrats’ expectations for the top of the ticket in 2024. 

Democrats have more than a handful of takeover opportunities that could benefit from a stronger effort statewide. Five House Republicans represent California districts that Biden won in 2022, including John Duarte (13th District), David Valadao (22nd), Mike Garcia (27th), Young Kim (40th), and Michelle Steel (45th). GOP Reps. Kevin Kiley (3rd) and Ken Calvert (41st) represent seats that Trump won narrowly and should feature competitive races this cycle.

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

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