- Democrats’ chances of taking back the US Senate, in Republican hands since 2015, now look slim.
- Their path to the majority now hinges on winning two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021.
- Democrats flipped seats in Colorado and Arizona, but failed to make gains in Alaska, Iowa, Montana, Maine, North Carolina, and Texas.
- As of November 11, Decision Desk HQ projects Republicans control 50 seats and Democrats, 48.
- The Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two Independents who caucus with Democrats, meaning Democrats needed to win back four to five seats.
- Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the presidential election, Insider and Decision Desk HQ projected on November 6.
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But Democrats’ chances of regaining the majority in the Senate â€” held by the GOP for the past five years â€” now hinge on a pair of races in Georgia. In order to resume control of the Senate, Democrats must win two runoff elections in the state on January 5, 2021.
As of November 11, Republicans control 50 Senate seats, and Democrats control 48, according to Insider and Decision Desk HQ projections.
Democrats have retained Sen. Gary Peters’ seat in Michigan and flipped the Senate seat in Colorado currently held by Republican Cory Gardner. Democrat Mark Kelly has also won the special election in Arizona for the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, defeating Sen. Martha McSally. He will serve the rest of McCain’s term until 2022.
But Democrats failed to oust incumbents in Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas, and lost Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama to the Republicans.
With the odds of Democrats winning an outright majority in the chamber looking increasingly slim, their most likely path to reach a 50-vote tie with Republicans is to flip both Senate seats in Georgia.
Then, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who would preside over the Senate, could cast a tie-breaker vote.
Both Georgia Senate races go to January 2021 runoffs
According to Georgia state law, an election goes to a runoff between the top two vote-getters, if neither candidate wins over 50% of the vote.
This year, none of the candidates received a majority in the regularly-scheduled Senate election between first-term Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.
The same thing happened in a special jungle election for Georgia’s other Senate seat, which is currently held by Republican appointee Kelly Loeffler. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to her Senate seat in late 2019 to replace Sen. Jonny Isakson.
The wealthy businesswoman competed with a slew of other candidates on November 3, and will now face off against Democratic Pastor Raphael Warnock to serve out the rest of Isakson’s term until 2022, Decision Desk HQ projected.
Set to take place on the first Tuesday in January, the Georgia runoff elections will determine control of the Senate for years to come and are likely to draw millions in outside spending.
The presidential race in Georgia between President Donald Trump and Biden is currently too close to call, with Biden ahead of Trump as of November 10.
Here are some highlights of the results:
Sen. Dan Sullivan kept his seat in Alaska
Sullivan fended off a challenge from Independent candidate Al Gross, who would have caucused with Democrats.
Sen. Gary Peters won reelection in Michigan
Peters defeated Republican challenger John James, who also unsuccessfully ran against Michigan’s senior Senator Debbie Stabenow to keep Democratic hopes in the Senate alive.
Susan Collins held on to her longtime seat in Maine
Former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock failed to unseat Republican incumbent Steve Daines
Bullock forced a highly competitive race in Montana â€” a reliably red state at the presidential level â€” but could not overtake Daines for the Senate seat.
Joni Ernst fended off Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield in Iowa
Ernst, an Army veteran, was first elected to the Senate in 2014 as part of a GOP wave. She faced a much tougher race against Democratic nominee Greenfield to secure a second term.
Trump ally Lindsey Graham held on despite a tough race
Democrat Jaime Harrison put up a formidable fight in South Carolina, narrowly outpacing Graham in fundraising and tying polls leading up to the election. But as one of the most high-profile Republican Senators in the chamber, Graham managed to pull out the win in this historically Republican state.
Republican incumbent John Cornyn won in a close call
Cornyn was first elected in 2002 and has served in a number of positions in Senate leadership on behalf of a historically deep-red state. He secured a fourth term in the Senate by a narrow margin against Democratic challenger MJ Hegar.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated Republican Cory Gardner in Colorado
Hickenlooper, a former two-term governor and Denver mayor, unseated Gardner in Democrats’ first flip of a Senate seat and the only one to be called on election night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated Democrat Amy McGrath in Kentucky
McConnell is one of the most high-profile politicians in the country and one of the most reviled among Democrats, helping McGrath raise an eye-popping $US90 million for her campaign. However, despite McConnell’s unpopularity among Democrats and her own strong fundraising, McGrath was unable to topple the majority leader, who has held his Senate seat since 1986.
Democrats taking back the Senate majority would be a significant achievement toward delivering on Biden’s ambitious policy goals.
For Republicans, controlling the chamber for the past five years has allowed the party to confirm hundreds of conservative judges, including many younger ones, to lifetime appointments on the federal judiciary.
Here are the key Senate races of 2020
- Alabama Senate: Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won a 2017 special election in a major upset, lost in his tough reelection fight against former college football coach Tommy Tuberville.
- Alaska Senate: First-term Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan is facing a more competitive than expected reelection challenge from Al Gross, an Independent who would caucus with Democrats if elected.
- Arizona Senate special: Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat in late 2018, lost in a competitive special election against Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, and gun-violence-prevention advocate. This was her second Senate election loss in two years.
- Arkansas Senate: First-term Republican Sen. Tom Cotton was elected to a second term without any Democratic opposition.
- Colorado Senate: Republican Cory Gardner lost his bid for a second term against former two-term Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado has trended from a purple state to a reliably Democratic one in recent years, making this seat one of the most likely to flip.
- Delaware Senate: Democrat Chris Coons defeated Republican challenger Lauren Witzke.
- Georgia Senate, regular: Republican David Perdue is headed to a January 5, 2021 runoff to earn a second term against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is mounting a formidable campaign in a state trending toward Democrats.
- Georgia Senate, special: Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed to replace Sen. Jonny Isakson, who retired in late 2019 because of health concerns. She ran in a jungle special election with candidates of all parties on the ballot and will face Democrat Raphael Warnock also in a January 5, 2021 runoff.
- Idaho Senate: Republican Sen. Jim Risch won a third term against Democratic challenger Paulette Jordan.
- Illinois Senate: Democrat Dick Durbin won a fifth term against Republican Mark Curran.
- Iowa Senate: First-term Republican Sen. Joni Ernst won her competitive fight for a second term against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.
- Kansas Senate: Republican Rep. Roger Marshall defeated Democratic state Sen.Barbara Bollier for the open Kansas Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts.
- Kentucky Senate: Democrat Amy McGrath lost her bid to challenge Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, a race that attracted millions in outside spending but stayed in Republican hands.
- Louisiana Senate: First-term Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy won a second term against a bevy of challengers in both parties.
- Maine Senate: Longtime Republican Sen. Susan Collins won her tough reelection fight against Democrat Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.
- Massachusetts Senate: First-term Democratic Sen.Ed Markey won a second term against Republican Kevin O’Connor.
- Michigan Senate: First-term Democratic Sen. Gary Peters won a second term, defeating Republican John James in a competitive race. Peters, along with Jones, is one of just two Democratic senators who ran for reelection in a state won by Trump in 2016.
- Mississippi Senate: First-term Republican Sen.Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy in a rematch of the 2018 special runoff election that she won by 7.2 percentage points.
- Montana Senate: First-term Republican Steve Daines staved off a tough challenge for a second term from former Montana attorney general and two-term Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
- Nebraska Senate: First-term Republican Sen. Ben Sasse defended his seat against Democratic challenger Chris Janicek.
- New Jersey Senate: Former Democratic presidential candidate and current Sen. Cory Booker won a third term against political newcomer Rik Mehta.
- North Carolina Senate: First-term Republican Sen.Thom Tillis faced off against former state Sen. Cal Cunningham and was reelected in one of the most competitive and expensive Senate races in the country.
- Oklahoma Senate: Longtime Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe defended his seat against Democrat Abby Broyles.
- Oregon Senate: Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley won a third term in the Senate against Jo Rae Perkins.
- Rhode Island Senate: Longtime Democratic Sen.Jack Reed defended his seat against challenger Allen Waters.
- South Carolina Senate: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham won one of the most difficult reelection battles of his political career against fundraising juggernaut Democrat Jaime Harrison.
- South Dakota Senate: First-term Republican Sen.Mike Rounds won reelection against Democrat Dan Ahlers.
- Tennessee Senate: Republican Bill Hagerty defeated Democrat Marquita Bradshaw after incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander did not run for reelection.
- Virginia Senate: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner won a third term against Daniel Gade.
- West Virginia Senate: Republican Shelley Moore-Capito won reelection against Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin.
- Wyoming Senate: Republican Cynthia Lummis defeated Democrat Merav Ben-David for the seat held by GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, did not run for reelection.
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