Republicans Win Enough Red States To Expand Senate Control

Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

Senate Republicans have won enough heavily conservative states to expand their majority, a big boost for the party.

Republicans won key races in the red states of Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas and North Dakota to allow them to grow their 52-seat Senate majority by at least two seats.

Republicans held on in what amounted to a home game for the party. Democrats had to defend 10 Senate seats in states Trump had carried. Republicans were on defense in only one state carried by Hillary Clinton — a race that Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) lost.

The net result provides a lift for the GOP.

Florida was the lone real surprise of the night. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) trailed Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), though the race was close and he hasn’t conceded.

The Senate result, combined with what appears to be the GOP’s loss of the House majority, means that Congress is unlikely to pass much major legislation in the next two years. The Republican-controlled Senate will likely spend much of its time fulfilling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) longtime dream of packing the federal courts with conservative judges.

The results are a disappointment, but aren’t all bad news for Democrats. A number of incumbents coasted to reelection in states Trump won in 2016 that could have been more vulnerable in a better year for the GOP, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) remained locked in a tight race with Montana state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), and Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) were going down to the wire as of 2:50 a.m. EST.

The results make things harder for Democrats as they look to taking another shot at the Senate in 2020, as they’re now staring at needing to net least four seats for control. The map will be easier: Only two Democrats from states Trump won will be up for reelection in two years, the same number of Republicans from states Trump lost will face the voters, and nearly a half-dozen Republicans from states Trump narrowly won will have to fight for reelection as well. But Democrats will now have a tougher hill to climb.

This story was last updated at 2:50 a.m. EST.

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