Republicans retain Senate majority


Republicans are guaranteed to keep control of the Senate after netting early victories by flipping two Democratic seats and won a marquee race in Texas.

GOP candidates scored major victories in Indiana and North Dakota, while several other toss-up races remain too close to call, paving the way for the party to potentially expand its 51-49 majority.

Businessman Mike Braun unseated Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — marking the first red state Democrat to lose on Tuesday and giving the GOP an early seat flip.

Republicans later toppled Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), spelling trouble for Democrats' chances and fellow red-state Democrats. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) was expected to pick up the rural state after holding a double-digit lead in most polls.

The two red-state Democratic losses came after Republicans avoided a major upset in Texas, where Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) shot into an early lead but was ultimately unable to overcome Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Absent a last-minute upset in a seat controlled by Republicans, the two Democratic losses and the GOP win in Texas guarantees Republicans will hold onto the chamber, even with undecided races in Arizona and Nevada.

Democrats entered Election Day looking to defend seats in 10 states that Trump won in 2016, presenting them with an uphill battle to take back the Senate or even maintain the GOP's majority.

Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) are among those facing tough reelection contests made all the harder by recent campaigning by Trump for their GOP challengers.

The two senators, as well as Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, are locked in races that are currently too close to call. If McCaskill, Nelson or Tester lose, that could pave the way for Republicans to expand their majority.

One race that might not be decided on Tuesday is a special election in Mississippi, where Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R-Miss.) is trying to prevent a runoff election for her Senate seat.

Democrat Mike Espy has a lead in early voting, but if none of the candidates win a majority then the top two candidates, regardless of political affiliation, will advance to a Nov. 27 runoff.

Even with the Mississippi race undecided, Democrats could sweep the remaining battleground states and fall short, with Republicans holding a 50-49 majority in that scenario.
If Democrats sweep the remaining battleground states and Republicans ultimately win Mississippi, where Trump remains popular, that would give Republicans a 51-49 majority.

Democrats have gotten some good news on Tuesday night. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) held off state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in what was expected to be a competitive race.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) easily won reelection, and voters in New Jersey decided to send Sen. Bob Menendez back to Washington for another six-year term.

But the defeat in Texas comes after Tennessee, another potential pickup, was quickly taken out of reach for Democrats with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) defeating former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) after holding a lead in the polls heading into Tuesday.

Democrats are still eyeing potential pick ups in two western states with seats currently held by Republicans — Arizona and Nevada.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) had a slight lead over Rep. Martha McSally(R-Ariz.) heading into Tuesday as they battle to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R). If Sinema is victorious it would be the first time since 1988 that Arizonans have elected a Democrat to the Senate.

Meanwhile, Democrats held a lead among early voters in Nevada, where Democrats are feeling bullish about their ability to unseat Sen. Dean Heller(R-Nev.), the only Republican senator up for reelection in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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