The Slatest

Who’s Winning the Senate?

Capitol dome at sunrise
The sun rises over the U.S. Capitol during Election Day. Or does it set? That’s for the voters to decide. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Tonight’s “other” main event is the battle for control of the United States Senate, which currently is composed of 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. If Democrats can win the presidency, they will need a net pickup of three seats to take control of the chamber; if Trump wins the presidency, Democrats will need to flip four on net. We will be tracking Senate race calls tonight as they come in on this here webpage, though some may either not be called Tuesday night or head to runoffs.

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Total Count, 2:15 a.m.: Democrats 46 seats (including two independents), Republicans 47.

2:15 a.m.: Good Night. Here’s Where Things Stand.

A couple of notable wins to add to the tally before we sign off: Montana Sen. Steve Daines has defeated his challenger, Gov. Steve Bullock, a major Democratic recruit. Meanwhile, Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith has defeated her opponent, former Rep. Jason Lewis, an important hold for Democrats.

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None of this is the night Democrats wanted. But while there’s still optimism tonight that Joe Biden could (eventually) eke out a win in the presidential contest, the possibility of a Democratic Senate majority looks dim. Iowa is a painful loss for Democrats. Montana, Texas, and South Carolina aren’t going to be that close in the end. In North Carolina, Cal Cunningham is hanging by a thread, while Jon Ossoff, in Georgia, appears to be underperforming Biden’s total in the state. Sen. Susan Collins is earning the support of a lot of ticket splitters in Maine and holds a decent lead over challenger Sara Gideon. The race between Sen. Gary Peters and John James in Michigan will be close.

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Democrats’ next best chance for a pickup, at this writing, would have to be Mark Kelly in Arizona defeating Sen. Martha McSally. It’s not clear where they would get another one.

12:45 a.m.: A Big Republican Hold in Iowa

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst has defeated her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, in Iowa. This is a big hold for Republicans, as it was one of the main seats Democrats were aiming for in their quest to take the majority.

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Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján, meanwhile, has won in New Mexico, and will replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall.

11:45 p.m.: One Runoff Avoided, Another Looms

Democrat Adrian Perkins didn’t ever have a chance to beat Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. But he could have taken him to a runoff if Cassidy couldn’t break 50. But Cassidy has, and he will win reelection. In Georgia, meanwhile, GOP Rep. Doug Collins has conceded to GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who appears headed to a runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock. Loeffler had run hard to the right to head off Collins, and her pivot back to Planet Earth ahead of a runoff in January should be mildly amusing. We’ll take all the mild amusements we can get.

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Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has also fended off a challenge against Democratic challenger Mike Espy.

11:10 p.m.: Remember the Muttering About Kansas Being Kinda-Sorta Competitive? It’s Not.

GOP Rep. Roger Marshall has defeated Democrat Barbara Bollier in Kansas, taking the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts. This is one of those seats that, at the GOP’s worst moments earlier this fall, seemed like Democrats might have a chance at in a wave election. This is not a wave election, and Democrats now have not held a Senate seat in Kansas since 1939. Elsewhere, Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch won reelection, as did Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.

10:40 p.m.: Lindsey Graham Wins Easily

Democrat Jaime Harrison shattered fundraising records in his challenge to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, but Graham is going to comfortably win reelection. It appears that delivering Republicans a 6–3 majority on the Supreme Court, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a welcome thing in a red state! It’s funny, this election. So funny …

10:10 p.m.: A Republican Flip, and a Competitive Republican Hold

Republican Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn coach, has unseated Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who improbably won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions in 2017. That’s the first, and most likely, Republican flip. Elsewhere, Texas Sen. John Cornyn has fended off his challenger, Democrat M.J. Hegar.

9:45 p.m.: The First Democratic Flip

Democrat John Hickenlooper has defeated Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. This is the first seat that Democrats have flipped in the Senate, and it was considered their most likely pickup. They’ll need several more to take the majority, but it’s a taller order now as Democrats underperform in the South.

9:05 p.m.: A Few More Easy Calls for Republicans

A few more safe calls for Republicans: Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds have both won reelection. Republican Cynthia Lummis will replace retiring Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming.

8:35 p.m.: Tom Cotton Crushes Nonexistent Democratic Opponent

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s reelection has been called in his favor. He did not face a Democratic opponent. Congrats to him on a hard-fought campaign.

8:10 p.m.: A Flood of Easy Calls, Including Mitch McConnell

Since we last wrote, AP has made the following calls: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, and … Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell have all won reelection. And Republican Bill Hagerty has won the Tennessee race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander.

7:45 p.m.: West Virginia Goes … Republican??

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has won reelection in West Virginia. How competitive was this race? Well, since this is likely the first time that you heard that Capito was up for reelection, not very.

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7:15 p.m.: A Quick Call in Virginia

The Associated Press instantly called Sen. Mark Warner’s reelection. He only barely won his last reelection, in 2014, by less than a percentage point, the last time Virginia was in any way a competitive state.

6:45 p.m.: How’s Mitch McConnell Doing?

The first wave of poll closures Tuesday night came in Kentucky and Indiana. In Kentucky, your favorite senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, is facing off against Democrat Amy McGrath, a prolific fundraiser … but not much of a competitive candidate. FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gives McConnell a 96 percent chance of winning with an average margin of 13 points. This is a race that could be called relatively early.

The next wave of poll closures, at 7 p.m., features major races in Georgia (2) and South Carolina as well as Sen. Mark Warner’s reelection race in Virginia.

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