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In Always-On Political Cycle, 2024 Senate Races Are Off To An Early Start.

Just over 11 weeks after 2022's midterm elections, the stage is already being set for the Senate contests in 2024, suggesting this year's political ad market may be more robust than expected.

With senators announcing retirements and reelection campaigns, and candidates already jumping into races in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, California and other states, “folks want to have ‘first mover’ advantage,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Jason Thielman tells Politico, “and that’s what you’re seeing in each one of these places. People recognize that there’s a good chance to win, so they want to get out and stake a claim.”

For the GOP these are crucial races, as their candidates' November performance did not lead to an expected “red wave,” nor did it give Senate control back to the party. During 2022's campaigns, nominees struggled to attract independent voters while candidates were outraised by Democratic opponents. “Recruitment is a top priority for us in the cycle,” Thielman says, “so we’re certainly thrilled to see a number of top-tier candidates already launching their campaigns.”

Democrats' strategy, meanwhile, focuses on retrenching around their three most vulnerable candidates: Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Montana Sen. Jon Tester and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, with only Brown having committed to running again. The party is also defending five states where President Joe Biden won narrowly in 2020: Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. “In states that are viewed as competitive, there is a desire to keep as many of the incumbents running for re-election as possible,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) says. “Sen. Schumer, I think, has already started that [work].”

Having maintained a slim majority in the Senate, Democrats can afford to lose only one seat next year to maintain control. “Every reporter I talked to in October and November was convinced that Democrats were going to be in the minority right now. We’re not. In fact we picked up a seat,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) says. “Yes, the map in ‘24 is challenging, but if Republicans continue in the direction they’re already trending in, I feel good.”

More campaign launches in both parties are expected to become official in the coming days and weeks.

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