With Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly’s re-election victory over Republican Blake Masters, Democrats are now just one seat away from maintaining control of the Senate in what was predicted by many to be a GOP wave election year, but one that never materialized.
Tuesday’s election results were a bitter disappointment for Republicans, as Democratic senators in Arizona and New Hampshire were able to fend off challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump, while Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Republican Herschel Walker are headed into a runoff election on Dec. 6 after neither could win a 50% majority of the vote. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet was handily re-elected in Colorado, as was Sen. Patty Murray (D) in Washington state.
Each party currently holds 49 seats, and Democrats need just one more victory to hold onto their majority with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties.
All eyes now turn to Nevada, where the Senate race remains too close to call, but Republican Adam Laxalt’s early lead is shrinking radpidly. Updating his supporters on Saturday morning, Laxalt shared that he is only leading incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by 862 votes.
“Multiple days in a row, the mostly mail-in ballots counted continue to break in higher [Democratic] margins than we calculated. This has narrowed our victory window,” Laxalt tweeted. “The race will come down to 20-30K Election Day Clark drop off ballots.”
“If they are GOP precincts or slightly DEM leaning then we can still win,” he added, optimistically. “If they continue to trend heavy DEM then she will overtake us. Thanks for all the prayers from millions of Nevadans and Americans who hope we can still take back the Senate and start taking our country back.”
If Cortez Masto is re-elected, control of the U.S. Senate will remain in Democratic hands. But if Laxalt prevails, the matter will be decided in four weeks in Georgia. Outside political groups have already ramped up spending there, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) making a six-figure ad purchase to attack Warnock as a “great actor” who “votes with Joe Biden 96% of the time.”
Republicans hope to avoid a repeat of the 2020 runoff elections in Georgia.
Warnock, who is the minister at Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, narrowly edged Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021, Senate runoff elections. His victory, coupled with now-Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff’s razor-thin win over GOP Sen. David Perdue, gave the Democrats the Senate majority.
The GOP’s precarious predicament has led to finger-pointing over whom to blame for their losses. In an environment where President Biden has underwater approval ratings and historically high inflation is top of mind for voters, the widespread expectation was for Republicans to gain a large House majority and win back the Senate. The reality is that any House majority will be a slim one, and the Senate is still up in the air.
Some conservatives have shoveled blame at Trump, observing that he endorsed candidates who supported his unproven claims about the 2020 election in GOP primaries, and those candidates went on to lose. Trump blames Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his Senate Leadership Fund PAC, which in August withdrew $8 million of ad spending from the Senate race in Arizona and redirected funds to support Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in her ranked-choice contest against fellow Trump-endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka.
The former president also argues that GOP losses have been overstated. Earlier this week, he told Fox News the people he endorsed “did very well,” observing that 216 of his candidates went on to win their races, while only 19 lost. Trump mentioned that Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and candidates Eric Schmitt in Missouri, J.D. Vance in Ohio, and Ted Budd in North Carolina had each won their races.
Still, with control of the Senate hanging in the balance, some of Trump’s advisers have called on him to delay his plans to launch another White House bid until after the Georgia runoff.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.