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Awaiting Manchin’s decision, West Virginia race tilts toward GOP

Republicans have numerous pickup chances, and only one vulnerable seat

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., would be an underdog if he runs again, according to race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., would be an underdog if he runs again, according to race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats may have no chance to hold West Virginia’s Senate seat if Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III opts to retire or even run for president, but given the political terrain of the Mountain State, the race now favors the GOP.

That’s according to the latest analysis from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, which has released its first detailed race ratings for the Senate map in 2024. The West Virginia Senate race debuts with a Tilt Republican rating.

As the Inside Elections team explained, Manchin appears to have no intention of making an announcement until 2024 about whether he’ll seek a fourth Senate term or possibly make a White House bid on a No Labels ticket. The Senate filing deadline is in late January.

Manchin said at a July 17 No Labels forum in New Hampshire that “if I get in a race, I’m going to win.” The former governor was reelected to his Senate seat by less than 1 percentage point in 2018, but West Virginia backed President Donald Trump against Joe Biden in 2020 by 39 points.

Broadly speaking, the overall Senate map in 2024 favors the Republicans, a fact that also becomes clear when looking at Roll Call’s most recent list of the 10 most vulnerable incumbents.

“The Senate battlefield unquestionably favors Republicans. They’re playing offense in eight of the nine most competitive states including West Virginia, Montana, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan,” Inside Elections wrote in their Friday analysis. The race for GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s seat in Texas, where Democratic Rep. Colin Allred is vying for the nomination, “is the only Democratic takeover opportunity on the battleground at this stage of the cycle.”

Democrats and independents who caucus with them currently hold a 50-49 Senate majority, with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., continuing to hold committee assignments through the Democratic Caucus. In the Senate ratings published Friday afternoon, Sinema’s seat along with seats in Montana and Ohio are in the Toss-up column.

Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are each seeking reelection. Two other seats are in the Tilt Democratic column, according to Inside Elections. Those are the races in Nevada and Pennsylvania, where Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Bob Casey are seeking reelection.

All of these states have what appear to be contested and competitive Republican primaries, with multiple candidates either already announced or expected to announce. Sinema has not yet announced her 2024 plans, and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is running for the seat.

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