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Peters and Daines on the fight for Senate control

Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) are in a grueling battle for control of the Senate. We asked the leaders of the dueling campaign committees — the DSCC and the NRSC — for their thoughts on three burning questions about the 2024 cycle.

Democrats have to defend two seats in deep-red Montana and Ohio while protecting multiple incumbents in presidential battleground states. They are also pursuing tough challenges to Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

For Republicans, a Senate majority appears within reach. They need to flip one to two seats, depending on who is in the White House. And West Virginia is a near lock for the GOP with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) retiring.

Here’s what Peters and Daines — now a potential contender for Senate GOP leadership — had to say about the campaign. The interviews have been edited for clarity.

Q: What dynamics are political prognosticators getting wrong about 2024?

Peters: In ‘22, we had a very tough election and yet we performed very well — in fact, beat all expectations. And I expect the same to happen in ‘24. And many of the same dynamics that we had in ‘22 exist again.

First and foremost is candidate quality. I’m protecting … Democratic incumbents who are highly skilled, doing a great job representing their states and have a proven track record of winning in a tougher environment. And they’re going to be facing challengers who have a number of significant flaws.

Daines: Republicans are preparing to aggressively fight back against Democrats’ abortion lies this cycle. We will clearly state our support for exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Republicans will also largely support reasonable guardrails on late-term abortions and aggressively contrast that position with Democrats’ support for no limits whatsoever on taxpayer-funded abortion up until the moment before birth.

Q: How do you think the presidential candidates at the top of the ticket will affect your incumbents?

Peters: I think being in a presidential race will help us in terms of turnout, and one of the challenges you have in the midterm is turnout. That’s not going to be as much of an issue for us in a presidential year. And the one thing that we have seen time and time again is having Donald Trump on the ticket really drives out Democratic turnout in a significant way.

Daines: President Trump being at the top of the ticket is Democrats’ worst nightmare. He brings out low-propensity voters at a level no other candidate does. He leads Joe Biden in every key swing state right now. To say nothing of West Virginia, Montana and Ohio.

Q: What state do you think will surprise people the most in November?

Peters: I think we have a real, real opportunity in both Texas and Florida. We have excellent candidates in those two states that are building strong campaigns. In fact, they’re out-raising the incumbents in those states. I think those are our two pickups and when we’re successful, people will be talking about it.

Daines: I think we’ve got a lot of states that may surprise people. But Michigan is a state where I think Biden is in big trouble. It’s an open seat and Mike Rogers is an outstanding candidate.

— Max Cohen and Andrew Desiderio

Presented by AARP

AARP knows older voters. 

We’ve made it our business to know what matters to people 50 and over—like we know that protecting Social Security and supporting family caregivers are among their top priorities. Learn more from our polling in Pennsylvania.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.