Democratic chances of flipping the U.S. Senate were all but dashed by late afternoon on the day after the November 3 election, though there were still a few undecided races. However, as thing began to shake out more, it appeared that control of the Senate might come down to two Georgia runoff races. This was still not determined for sure, though, on November 5.
Control of the U.S. Senate was considered up for grabs going into Election Day. Although some races are still up in the air, Republicans had a strong showing, beating back Democratic challenges in multiple states, while losing two seats and flipping one seat. Their chances of retaining control of the Senate were looking strong as the night and morning progressed. But it’s all coming down to some very close races.
Follow the 2020 U.S. Senate election results courtesy of Heavy’s partners at Decision Desk HQ below.
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What Are the Magic Numbers?
It depends on who wins the presidency. If it’s former Vice President Joe Biden, Democrats must flip three seats because new VP Kamala Harris would get to cast any tie-breaking vote. If it’s President Donald Trump, Democrats would need to flip four seats to seize control of the Senate. They already control the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently, Republicans have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate.
With numerous races still uncalled in the Senate election, so far the Democrats have flipped seats in Arizona and Colorado, but Republicans flipped an Alabama seat.
Republicans also beat back Democratic challenges to retain seats in South Carolina, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Maine and Texas. Democrats had launched aggressive challenges in attempts to pick up Senate seats in traditionally Republican areas, but that didn’t happen for them.
Either side needs 51 seats to have a majority of seats in the Senate. According to Decision Desk HQ, Republicans had reached 48 seats and Democrats were at 47, as of 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on November 4.
However, Republicans were leading in several Senate races that had yet to be called.
In North Carolina, Republican Thom Tillis declared victory, but, according to WSOC-TV, not all votes had yet been counted and the race was too close to call on November 4.
In one of the two Georgia Senate races, Republican David Perdue was also leading with most returns in.
Republicans were also hoping that Iraq war veteran John James could flip a Michigan Senate seat, but the vote was projected in favor of Democrat Gary Peters.
Enter the two Georgia races. According to Vox, those races are part of what’s called a “jungle primary,” in which every candidate is on the same ballot in the general election. If a single candidate gets 50% of the vote, they win; otherwise, the top two candidates end up in a runoff election.
Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat, will face a runoff thanks to another strong Republican who drew votes from her, according to Vox. Her Democratic opponent is Raphael Warnock.
Will the Perdue race end up in a runoff too? He was leading with 51% of the vote and 95% reporting on November 4. If that holds, he would win outright, increasing the Republican margin in the Senate.
Democrats’ lingering chance for Senate control would be if Perdue ends up under 50% and in a runoff that Democrats win, and if they also win the Loeffler-Warnock race and Joe Biden wins the presidency. That would leave the Senate at 50-50 with new VP Kamala Harris the tiebreaker. But will Democrats have a shot at the Loeffler seat in the runoff? Warnock received 31.9% of the vote on November 3 with 93% in, and Loeffler had 26.5%. But another Republican in the race, Doug Collins, got 20.4%, and the Republican, Loeffler, will be likely to consolidate GOP votes in the runoff.
Which U.S. Senate Races Are Democrats Most Likely to Flip?
With 51% of the vote, Republican Susan Collins pulled out a victory against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon.
Gideon, speaker of the state House, tried to oust Collins, who has been in office 24 years.
According to NBC, the race focused on Collins’ vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s embattled nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Projected Democratic flip.
Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado was trying to hold onto his seat. Fox News reported that Gardner was considered vulnerable because he’s a first-term senator and Colorado has trended blue and away from Trump. Gardner, a former Congressman, was up against a well-known figure: former Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper.
It’s been projected that Hickenlooper has won with 53.7% of votes.
Projected Democratic flip.
The GOP’s Martha McSally of Arizona was trying to hold onto her seat. She faced a strong challenge from Democrat Mark Kelly, an astronaut who is married to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
McSally was appointed to the seat after the death of John McCain and is considered a Trump loyalist, according to AZCentral.
The Associated Press has projected that Kelly won with more than 52% of the vote.
North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is trying to hold onto his Senate seat. His Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, was rocked by allegations of an extramarital affair, but it’s left to be seen whether voters will care.
According to Fox News, Tillis is considered a moderate but has aligned with Trump.
Tillis declared victory, but the race wasn’t officially called yet.
Joni Ernst is projected to win in Iowa, keeping the seat in Republican hands.
Ernst, the Republican, was trying to retain her Iowa Senate seat. Democrat Theresa Greenfield has alleged that Ernst sold out Iowans to corporate interests, according to KCCI-TV. Special interest money has flooded into the state. Trump’s declining popularity in the state is also posing problems for Ernst.
Georgia has two Senate races to watch. Republican Senator David Perdue is defending his seat against Jon Ossoff.
Perdue is ahead, but the race hasn’t been called, according to Politico.
In addition, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is trying to retain a seat she was appointed to in 2019. Because it’s a special election, there are 21 candidates. There will be a runoff between Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock in January, according to CBS News.
Steve Daines, the Republican, is projected to win and hold onto his seat.
In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock is trying to defeat Republican Steve Daines in a race with massive outside spending.
Did Republicans Flip Seats?
Republicans were hoping they could flip the Minnesota Senate seat to make it harder for Democrats to seize control. That didn’t happen.
The closely watched U.S. Senate race in Minnesota has Republican Jason Lewis battling Democrat Tina Smith. Smith is now projected to win.
Some polls showed Smith in striking distance in the waning days of the election, in a riot-torn state that saw arson fires, including at a police precinct, break out following the death of George Floyd. President Donald Trump has kept a heavy rally schedule in the Gopher State, railing against the Democratic governor and liberal Minneapolis mayor, striking a law-and-order message that Lewis is emulating. Smith, for her part, painted Lewis as an extremist and highlighted derogatory comments he made as a conservative talk radio host.
They were also hopeful that Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach, could oust Democratic Senator Doug Jones in Alabama. It’s been projected that Tuberville has flipped Alabama into the Republican column with more than 60% of votes.