Republicans brushed back challengers in some of the most competitive Senate contests, bolstering the party's hopes of retaining control of the chamber and erecting a powerful firewall against a potential Joe Biden administration.
As of Wednesday night, the Senate map stood at 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats, with four races yet to be called. Republican senators were ahead in North Carolina and Alaska and races for both Republican-held seats in Georgia were undecided. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters was reelected to his seat in Michigan in a race called Wednesday night.
Further disappointing Democrats, and surprising even many Republicans, the GOP was poised to cut into the Democratic majority in the House. Democrats had been widely expected to add to their ranks, based on their advantages in polls and fundraising.
In the Senate, the best outcome Democrats can hope for at this point — assuming North Carolina and Alaska stay in GOP hands — is to push both of the Georgia races into Jan. 5 runoffs. That would set the Senate at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats with two runoffs that could flip control of the chamber to Democrats if Biden wins the presidency. With those kinds of stakes, dual contests in Georgia would prompt a flood of campaign spending and attention for a bruising battle.
One of the Georgia contests, involving appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, was already heading to a runoff. In the other, Republican Sen. David Perdue hoped to hang onto his slight lead, just over the 50% vote threshold, to avoid being forced into a second runoff.
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