What Happened in Each Key Senate Race


In the days since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner in the presidential contest, the vote counting and reporting in states across the country have continued and are helping to clarify what the Senate will look like in 2021.

Democrats did not get the sort of blue wave they had hoped for, and their paths to flipping the Senate have significantly dwindled. In an election cycle in which President Trump ran much closer to Mr. Biden than many of the polls had predicted, Republicans appear poised to hold on to all but two of the roughly dozen seats that were thought to be competitive — and they flipped one seat held by a Democrat.

Two critical senate races in Georgia are headed to a runoff, 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 all yet to be formally called.With the Alaska senate race likely to wind up in the Republicans’ column, it appears that Democrats’ only path to a senate majority will require winning both of Georgia’s senate seats.

Here is a quick summary of what has happened in Senate races across the country.

Entering Election Day, Republicans held a three-seat advantage over Democrats in the Senate. That meant that in order for Democrats to take control of the chamber in 2021, they needed to flip at least three seats — and most likely four — assuming they also won the White House.

If Democrats were to pick up three seats, then Kamala Harris, as vice president, would be able to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. But Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, was widely expected to lose his race in the deep red state, so realistically, most Democrats expected they would have to flip a fourth Republican seat.

In that scenario, Democrats also had to defend the other 11 seats held by Democratic incumbents that were up for grabs this cycle, including one in the battleground state of Michigan.

The Democrats flipped two seats, in Arizona and Colorado, and the Republicans flipped one, Mr. Jones’s. That leaves Democrats, at least for the moment, with a net gain of just one seat — far short of what they needed .

As of Tuesday, Republicans have secured 49 seats in the next Senate, and Democrats, combined with the two independent senators who caucus with them, have secured 48.

The two races in Georgia are both headed to a Jan. 5 runoff because none of the candidates received 50 percent of the vote, the threshold under Georgia law to win outright. If a Republican wins either of the races in the traditionally conservative state, the party will maintain control of the Senate.

The Democrats held onto the other 11 seats they were defending, including in Michigan, where the Democratic incumbent, Gary Peters, narrowly prevailed.

Here is a state-by-state look at the Senate races played out.

Mr. Jones earned 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 by a wide margin to Tommy Tuberville, a Republican and former college football coach who has aligned himself with Mr. Trump.

As the polls had predicted, Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and retired Navy captain, defeated Senator Martha McSally, the Republican incumbent in Arizona. Mr. Kelly built a national profile as a gun safety advocate after his wife, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was seriously injured during a mass shooting in 2011. He ran as a pragmatic outsider and leaned hard into his biography on the campaign trail.

It was a second loss for Ms. McSally, who failed in her first run for Senate in 2018 but was then appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to the seat left vacant by the death of Senator John McCain.

The polls were similarly accurate in predicting that former Gov. John Hickenlooper would defeat Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado. Mr. Hickenlooper, who had made an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2019, handily defeated Mr. Gardner by roughly nine percentage points in a state that is increasingly tilting to the left and that went for Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump.

Though Iowa, Montana and South Carolina are all traditionally right-leaning, polls had shown tight Senate races in those states, and the Cook Political Report had rated each a tossup. But come Election Day, Republicans easily won each race.

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