Since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the presidential ballot, the counting and reporting of the votes in states across the country has continued and is helping to clarify what the Senate will look like in 2021.
Democrats didn’t get the kind of blue wave they hoped for, and their avenues to overthrow the Senate have diminished dramatically. In an election cycle in which President Trump ran much closer to Mr. Biden than many polls had predicted, Republicans appear poised to retain all but two of the dozen seats that the we thought they were competitive – and they reversed a seat. owned by a Democrat.
Two critical Senate races in Georgia head towards a second round, a third race in Alaska, where the Republican candidate is significantly ahead, and a fourth race in North Carolina where the Democratic challenger has conceded, have yet to be officially called. The Alaska Senate race is likely to end up in the Republicans ‘column, it seems the Democrats’ only path to a Senate majority will require winning both Georgia Senate seats.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened in Senate races across the country.
What Democrats needed to happen
As Election Day dawned, Republicans held a three-seat advantage over Democrats in the Senate. This meant that in order for Democrats to take control of the chamber in 2021, they had to reverse at least three seats – and most likely four – assuming they also won the White House.
If the Democrats won three seats, then Kamala Harris, as vice president, would be able to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. But Alabama Democrat Sen. Doug Jones was expected to lose his run in the Deep Red State, realistically most Democrats expected to have to overthrow a fourth Republican seat.
In this scenario, Democrats also had to defend the other 11 seats held by incumbent Democrats that were up for grabs this round, including one in the battlefield state of Michigan.
What really happened
Democrats reversed two seats, in Arizona and Colorado, and Republicans reversed one, Mr. Jones’. That leaves Democrats, at least for now, with a net win of just one seat – nowhere near what they needed.
On Tuesday, Republicans won 49 seats in the next Senate, and Democrats, combined with the two independent senators who meet with them, took 48.
The two races in Georgia are both headed for a runoff on January 5 as neither candidate got 50% of the vote, the threshold under Georgian law for outright winning. If a Republican wins either race in the traditionally conservative state, the party will retain control of the Senate.
Democrats retained the other 11 seats they defended, including in Michigan, where incumbent Democratic Congressman Gary Peters narrowly dominated.
Here’s a state-by-state rundown of the Senate races that have taken place.
Mr Jones won his Senate seat in a deeply red state after winning a special election in 2017 against Roy S. Moore, a Republican accused of sexual misconduct.
As expected, Mr Jones lost from a distance to Tommy Tuberville, a Republican and former college football coach who aligned himself with Mr Trump.
As the polls had predicted, Mark Kelly, a retired former astronaut and sea captain, defeated Republican incumbent Senator Martha McSally in Arizona. Mr Kelly has built a national profile as an advocate for gun safety after his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was seriously injured in a 2011 mass shooting. is presented as a pragmatic outsider and leaned hard on his biography on the electoral trail.
It was a second defeat for Ms McSally, who failed in her first Senate bid in 2018, but was later appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to the seat vacated by the death of Senator John McCain.
The polls were just as accurate in predicting that former Governor John Hickenlooper would beat Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado. Mr Hickenlooper, who failed the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019, defeated Mr Gardner by around nine percentage points in a state that leans increasingly to the left and which preferred Mr Biden over M Trump. .
Iowa, Montana and South Carolina
Although Iowa, Montana and South Carolina have all traditionally leaned to the right, polls had shown close Senate races in those states, and the Cook Political Report had rated each to a draw. But on Election Day, Republicans easily won every race.
In Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst, the outgoing Republican, sent out Theresa Greenfield, her Democratic challenger, by 6.6 percentage points. In Montana, Senator Steve Daines, the outgoing Republican, won more than 10 percentage points against Steve Bullock, the two-term Democratic governor of Montana.
And in South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, survived a challenge from Jaime Harrison, a former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, winning by 10.3 percentage points.
Perhaps no Senate race outcome has been as confusing for Democrats as that in Maine, where outgoing Republican Senator Susan Collins ousted her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon.
The race was one of the toughest in Ms. Collins’ career. She faced extraordinary sums of Democratic money and anger over her decision to uphold then-judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and the polls followed her with Ms Gideon, a formidable opponent who is the president of the Maison du Maine, for much of the race.
But it didn’t end up getting that close: On Tuesday, Ms Collins’ margin of victory over Ms Gideon was almost 8 percentage points.
Democrats were also deeply disappointed with the outcome of the North Carolina Senate race, where Senator Thom Tillis, a first-term Republican, appeared to have narrowly edged his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and army reserve officer, who conceded the race on Tuesday. Although there was no official call, Edison Research reported that Mr. Tillis was leading the race with just under 100,000 votes.
Like Ms. Gideon in Maine, Mr. Cunningham had a lead in the polls before election day. The race ended with two important developments: Mr Tillis contracted the coronavirus and Mr Cunningham got mired in a scandal over romantic messages he sent to a woman who is not his wife. While the effect of these developments on voters was not immediately clear, if any, Mr. Trump also held a significant lead in North Carolina, which could have helped support Mr. Tillis.
What happens next
There have been two Senate races that took place in Georgia, both scheduled to end in January.
One of the races involved Senator David Perdue, a first-term Republican, trying to sideline Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee. Mr Perdue’s share of the vote fell below 50% last week as more ballots were counted, forcing a showdown in January.
In the other race, Reverend Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Senator Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent Republican, finished first and second in a special election that brought together 20 candidates. Neither got 50% of the vote, and so, like Mr. Perdue and Mr. Ossoff, they will now face each other on January 5.
The pair of contests will most likely determine which party controls the Senate.