Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Both Chambers of Congress Might Flip in Opposite Directions

It is exceedingly rare for both chambers of Congress to flip in opposite directions. Democrats flipping two Republican chambers or Republicans flipping two Democratic chambers is common. It is called a wave election. But having both chambers flip in opposite directions is very rare. Yet that seems increasingly likely in 2024.

First the House. The Republicans have a tiny (five-seat) majority and are making a real mess of governing. Furthermore, 18 Republicans won in blue districts in the midterms and only five Democrats won in red districts. In a (more-partisan) presidential year, most of them could revert to the norm, giving the Democrats a net of 13 seats. That alone would do it. Then there is the matter of redistricting, which we looked at on Monday. Due to court decisions and battles in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the Democrats could net as many as 5 or 6 House seats if the stars align perfectly for them. At this point, various analysts think the Democrats are the favorites to capture the House. With a presidential election, 18 vulnerable Republicans, redistricting, Donald Trump on the ballot, and chaos among House Republicans, it will be tough for the Republicans to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

The Senate is completely different simply due to the map. Democrats are up in three deep red states: Montana, Ohio, and West Virginia. If Republicans win any two of them, Turtle rules, at least when not frozen. The toughest is West Virginia, which went for Donald Trump by 40 points and where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) hasn't even said if he is running. If he retires or runs for governor, the seat is lost. Period. But even if he runs, Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) will be the toughest opponent he has ever had.

Of the three, Montana is the least bad for the Democrats. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is a popular populist and has won three times already. And the Republicans are probably going to have a nasty primary between Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and businessman Tim Sheehy. Also important is that in the past, Libertarian Party candidates got a few percent of the vote and that generally came out of the Republican's hide.

Ohio is in between West Virginia and Montana. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has won three previous elections and his kind of populism flies in Ohio. In addition, the Republicans are going to have a very nasty primary. Candidates include Ohio SoS Frank LaRose, state Sen. Matt Dolan, wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno, and maybe a few more.

Another tough seat will be Arizona, where Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) hasn't said what she will do. Democrats hate her and most Republicans will vote for the Republican candidate. She's toast. But who wins depends on whom the Republicans nominate. If it is pretend-governor Kari Lake or Blake Masters, who lost a Senate race in 2022, Democrat Ruben Gallego will be the strongest. But the result here depends on what Sinema decides and whom the Republicans nominate.

Politico is now reporting that Lake will jump in during October. She camped out at Mar-a-Lago for weeks in an attempt to butter up Trump to get him to put her on the ticket with him. Apparently, she was unable to satisfy him and has lowered (raised?) her sights from veep to senator. His apparent rejection of Lake has put the spotlight back on another four-letter word: Noem. However, multiple media outlets are reporting that Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), who is married, has been having a years-long affair with Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski. See, for example, here, here, and here. Is the story true? Was it true love or Noem's ploy for getting to Trump via his aide? We don't know. But if Lake is out and Noem is potentially damaged, the veepstakes may be wide open now.

If Lake runs for the Senate and Masters does not, she will win the Republican nomination easily. That will probably cause sane Republican voters to vote for Sinema or even Gallego, basically increasing Gallego's chances because it is first-past-the-post in Arizona. There are no runoffs in Arizona. In any event, there are many possible outcomes and only one is good for the Democrats: A Gallego win.

Michigan is an open seat because Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is retiring. The Democrats have a strong candidate in Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who is a prodigious fundraiser. But the Republicans also have a strong candidate in former representative Mike Rogers. The state is slightly bluish, but Rogers could conceivably win.

Finally, the Republicans have talked Connecticut resident David McCormick into trying again in Pennsylvania. He was beaten in the Republican primary by Mehmet Oz in 2022 and is back for a second whack at the piñata. This time he will face Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). The Casey family has 40+ years of service in elected office in Pennsylvania, but McCormick could dump $20 million of his own money (or more) if he decides he really wants to be a senator. Of course, since he is rich, he may have developed a fondness for crudités, which is fatal in Pennsylvania politics.

The point is that the Democrats can afford to lose only one seat. If Manchin decides not to run, they have to win every one of the above races in the other states. Republicans need to win only one of them if Manchin drops out. Of course, if Trump is elected president, 50 seats in the Senate will sort of do the job, so if Manchin drops out and Trump wins, Republicans will control the Senate, no matter what else happens.

For the Democrats, swapping the Senate for the House is a bad deal. With a GOP-controlled Senate, many executive appointments won't be approved, probably no judges will be approved, and certainly no Supreme Court justices will be approved if a seat opens up. The only saving grace of a Democratic House and Republican Senate is that deal making on legislation might be possible because turtles like to bask in the sunlight. In the current configuration, that is simply impossible. (V)

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