Republicans begin to caress control of the US Senate with the withdrawal of Joe Manchin | International

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Joe Manchin, Democratic senator from West Virginia, this Wednesday at the Capitol.MICHAEL REYNOLDS (EFE)

Joe Biden has a very difficult time achieving re-election against the impeached Donald Trump in November 2024. However, his task is nothing compared to the difficulty of retaining control of the Senate, now with a Democratic majority of 51 to 49. In the elections In 2024, a third of the Upper House is renewed and the majority of the seats at stake belong to the Democrats. Among them are several senators from states who have become clearly more conservative than in 2018, when they were elected to a six-year term. With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announcing that he will not run for re-election in 2024, Republicans have a clearer path to winning the majority.

Joe Manchin is the most Republican Democrat in Washington. His rebellion within the party has been a permanent headache for Biden, who only through concessions managed to attract him to the cause of the Inflation Reduction Act, his star measure in climate, fiscal and health matters. At the time, Manchin was considered the only Democrat with any chance of retaining the West Virginia seat for Biden's party. He achieved popularity in his state as governor and was elected senator for the first time in 2010. In 2018 he already won the seat by a minimal difference, but in his state Trump won in 2020 with 68.6% of the votes, a percentage only surpassed for Wyoming. His re-election was already very difficult. Now, a Democratic victory seems impossible.

With the West Virginia seat almost assured, the Republican Party now has multiple possibilities of obtaining the other senator it would need to take the majority from the Democrats. Of the 35 senators who are renewed in 2024 (33 in turn and two more to fill vacancies in California and Nebraska), 24 correspond to the Democrats and only 11 to the Republicans, whom all pools favor.

Donald Trump's party can count on retaining all of its senators. There are 38 that continue their mandate and the other 11 seats are being played in markedly Republican states: Wyoming, Utah, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and two Nebraska. A change of sign in any of them would be a surprise.

The opposite happens to Democrats. The case of West Virginia is the clearest, but there are two other senators who defend their position in states where Trump clearly won: Jon Tester, in Montana, and Sherrod Brown, in Ohio. Additionally, there are several Democratic seats up for grabs in states where Biden narrowly won such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Michigan. As if that were not enough, the other rebel Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, has left the party and will try to be re-elected from Arizona as an independent. That has left Democrats with the dilemma of whether to support his re-election or present their own candidate, with the risk that the division of the vote will end up handing the position to Trump's Kari Lake.

Losing just the West Virginia seat would cause a 50-50 tie, which would be broken by whoever held the vice presidency. But it is enough for the Republicans to steal just one of those other half-dozen positions at risk from the Democrats to achieve the majority. And if Trump wins the presidential election, he wouldn't even need that extra senator, but rather a 50-50 tie and the deciding vote of his vice president would do.

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Control of the Senate is key to any president's political agenda. Not only is its majority necessary for the approval of any law, but it is also the House that has the power to ratify or veto the appointments of federal judges (including those of the Supreme Court, as Barack Obama well knows), ambassadors, advisors of the Federal Reserve and many other senior officials. A second Biden term with the Senate in Republican hands would be hell for the president.

The result of the House of Representatives, which renews its 435 members, is much more unpredictable. A total of 11 seats were decided in the 2022 legislative elections by a margin of less than 1% of the votes and more than 20 by less than 3%. The winner of the presidential elections does not always exert enough influence to guarantee the majority. It remains to be seen if voters punish the spectacle of chaos and ungovernability that has occurred with the dismissal of Kevin McCarthy and the election of Mike Johnson as president. In any case, there is almost a year until the elections and any prediction in the Lower House is very premature.

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