Senate Republicans are poised to keep control of their chamber, as Democratic challengers fell short of scoring the needed upsets to tilt the balance of power on Election Day.
As of 1:30 a.m ET, Republicans had secured at least 50 seats, giving them the numbers needed to keep the majority.
They were propelled by wins in North Dakota and Indiana, where they bested Democratic incumbents, and in Texas, where they held off Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke. Two Senate election toss-ups remained to be called in Arizona and Nevada. A longshot race for Democrats remained to be called in Mississippi. But even if Democrats were to win those three, they would only get to 50 votes, and Vice President Mike Pence would effectively break a tie in that scenario for Republicans. In reality, Democrats also seemed poised to lose other seats elsewhere.
The electoral map had favored Senate Republicans this cycle, with a number of Democratic incumbents running for re-election in states that Donald Trump had won by significant margins. And, indeed, at the start of the campaign season, there was talk of the GOP greatly expanding its majority beyond the current 51-49 margin.
A surge in progressive grassroots activism had propelled Democratic candidates in several races. But the map proved too tough. In reliably conservative states, many Democrats members struggled to combat voter enthusiasm for Trump and dissatisfaction with how senators handled the confirmation battle of his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.
The failure to turn the Senate will have limited legislative consequences, as Democrats seemed poised to capture the majority in the House, thereby assuring them the ability to bottleneck Trump’s agenda. But it will have a profound impact on the nation’s courts.
With at least 49 other Republicans in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have the votes he needs to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees (provided there are no defections).
Already, Trump and McConnell have confirmed judges at a historic clip. And they will likely focus much of the next two years towards continuing those efforts.