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Tipsheet

We Now Have Another 'Toss-Up' Senate Race

AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

The 2024 Senate map looks particularly favorable to Republicans, especially in comparison to 2022. There's plenty of vulnerable Democratic incumbents running for reelection, including in the "Toss-Up" races of Ohio and Montana. On Wednesday, however, the Cook Political Report moved the U.S. Senate race for Nevada into that same category, with vulnerable Democratic incumbent Sen. Jacky Rosen running for reelection.

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Although Rosen's race is the most recent and described as "still probably the toughest" race change, she doesn't necessarily have the same advantages that incumbents like Ohio's Sherrod Brown and Montana's Jon Tester do.

"The state is also well-known for its high population turnover: every election cycle, a quarter of voters are new," Cook Political Report's analysis mentioned, also adding Rosen "simply doesn’t have the same type of established brand that Jon Tester in Montana or Sherrod Brown in Ohio have that enables them to outrun the top of the ticket."

Rosen was first elected in 2018, when she unseated Republican Sen. Dean Heller. Nevada's other Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, had also been in a "Toss-Up" race against Republican Adam Laxalt in 2022, but she ultimately won in a particularly close race. 

However, now former Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak was defeated by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo in 2022. As the analysis explained:

Nevada also saw the only incumbent governor lose reelection two years ago, when Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo ousted Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Although voters look at races for governor and Senate differently, if Republicans use the strategy Lombardo did — especially in targeting early and absentee voters, where many sources say Laxalt lagged behind, along with appealing to more moderate and independent voters  — the outcome may be different.

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Rosen is likely to face Army veteran Sam Brown in November, who is the recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He ran in the Republican primary in 2022, ultimately losing to Laxalt but still earning just over 34 percent of the vote. Other Republican options mentioned include Jim Merchant, who was the Republican nominee for secretary of state in 2022, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter.

Although Brown has not been endorsed by former and potentially future President Donald Trump, not yet at least, he has been endorsed by Lombardo, which the analysis notes is "critical." Further, it looks like Brown is the reason the race is even considered a "Toss-Up." As the analysis noted, "[i]f a candidate other than Brown wins the primary, we would certainly reassess our rating."

Speaking of Trump and Nevada, he has been leading against President Joe Biden in the polls for the Silver State, as well as several other swing states. This is despite how Nevada hasn't voted for a Republican for president since 2004. Trump currently leads there by +3.2, according to RealClearPolling

Rosen, meanwhile, is highlighted for how she's distanced herself from Biden:

Rosen released her first ads, both in English and Spanish, this week. They’re clearly designed to separate herself from President Joe Biden and the drag he could be in the state. In the first ad, she boasts she “stood up to my own party” on policing and border security, and notes her rating as the ninth-most bipartisan senator, according to the Lugar Center at Georgetown.

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As we mentioned earlier this week, she's also at odds with the Biden administration when it comes to her opposition to Adeel Mangi, President Joe Biden's nominee for the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals. 

"Although Brown may prove to be a stronger candidate than Laxalt was — especially if he emulates Lombardo — and Rosen has a lower profile than Cortez-Masto, ultimately we are moving this race because of the unique forces at play in Nevada. A combination of a newer electorate that Rosen must win over, Biden’s lagging numbers, and the unique post-COVID economic hangover in Nevada make this race a Toss Up," the analysis summed up. 

The Senate race out of Arizona is also considered a "Toss-Up" between Republican Kari Lake and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, with current Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) retiring. 

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