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Democrats Keep Control of the Senate

Democrats Keep Control of the Senate

By Saturday, enough Democrats had won key races that, for Republicans, all paths lead to another two years in the minority.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

There was no shortage of paths to a Republican Senate majority in 2022: They had to defend the seats they had, and then defeat just one incumbent Democrat in the battleground states of Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, or New Hampshire.

Ultimately, Republicans couldn’t do it—and they may be headed toward actually losing seats. By Saturday, enough Democrats had won key races that, for Republicans, all paths lead to another two years in the minority.

With John Fetterman’s flip of the Pennsylvania Senate seat, and the re-election wins of Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), the GOP cannot win control of the Senate even if Republican Herschel Walker wins in the Georgia runoff election in December.

With Senate control not riding on Georgia, Democrats believe that GOP interest in the contest will wane and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) will have an easier path to victory. If he prevails in a second straight runoff, Democrats could own a 51-seat Senate majority—one that does not require the tiebreaker vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

With Nevada officially being called for Democrats on Saturday, Republicans will have to wait at least another two years to gain control of the Senate. And in a sign of just how bad of an Election Day it was for the GOP, control of the Senate has now been confirmed before the House—which pollsters and political insiders predicted Republicans would win without breaking much of a sweat. It’s still mathematically possible for Democrats to retain control of that chamber as well.

In August, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly cast doubt on whether his party could pull off a takeover. It turns out his pessimism was well-founded.

A combination of flawed GOP candidates and surprisingly strong showings from incumbent Democrats allowed the party to hang on.

Even if Republicans ultimately take the House, by holding the Senate, President Joe Biden’s judicial and executive nominations will likely continue to be confirmed. Democrats will also continue to control powerful Senate committees and set the legislative agenda in the chamber.

The recriminations among Republicans were already beginning even before their Senate failure solidified. Reporting from Politico and The New York Times over the weekend illustrated how, during the election cycle, McConnell’s strategy and vision frequently diverged, or even clashed, with that of Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the chairman of the Senate GOP’s official campaign arm.

The finger-pointing will probably be most intense for Donald Trump and his allies, who boosted flawed candidates for key races. In Arizona and Pennsylvania, Trump’s endorsement was decisive in the primary victories of Blake Masters and Mehmet Oz, both of whom struggled to gain traction in their campaigns and ultimately squandered two of the GOP’s most appealing pickup opportunities.

Even one of Republicans’ relative bright spots was a Pyrrhic victory. In Ohio, J.D. Vance won a comfortable victory over Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), but not until after GOP campaign organizations spent big to ensure a Vance victory in a state that Donald Trump carried by eight points.

Republicans failing to pick up a single seat—and potentially even losing one—has already caused some GOP senators to call for a different direction with Republican leadership. Sens. Scott, Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have all called for a delay to leadership elections until Republicans can discuss their path ahead.

Source: Democrats Keep Control of the Senate

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