October 16, 2021

Republicans take Senate majority

Midterms 2014: Sen. Mitch McConnell wins reelection

Republicans have won a majority in the Senate for the first time in eight years, Fox News projects, giving the party full control of Congress for the remainder of President Obama’s term.

A projected victory by Republican Joni Ernst over Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa brought Republicans to the six seats needed to take control.

Republicans have enjoyed a strong night — after mounting campaigns from coast to coast that, almost without exception, sought to cast their opponents as rubber stamps for the unpopular president. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who fended off a Democratic challenge in Kentucky, is now poised to ascend to majority leader next year.


Republicans were rapidly picking up Senate seats Tuesday night in pursuit of the six needed to retake control of the chamber, with Fox News projecting the GOP has won a net five seats so far.

Republicans also are projected to retain control of the House — and gain about 10 seats, reversing some of the losses the GOP experienced in 2012 and restoring the party to a majority similar to its historic victory of 2010.

The latest two Senate pick-ups were in Montana and Colorado. In Montana, Republican Steve Daines is projected to defeat Democrat Amanda Curtis, flipping control of the seat to the Republican Party for the first time since 1913. In Colorado, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner is projected to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, one of the most closely watched contests in this election cycle.

Fox News projects that South Dakota Republican Mike Rounds will win the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. Further, GOP Rep. Tom Cotton will unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Shelley Moore Capito will beat Democrat Natalie Tennant for an open Senate seat in West Virginia, Fox News projects.

In a vital set of victories, Republicans also have held onto all three seats that were in contention this year.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell won re-election to his Kentucky seat. Fox News projects that Republican David Perdue, former CEO of Dollar General, will beat Democrat Michelle Nunn for the open Georgia Senate seat; and three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts will survive the political scare of his life by beating independent challenger Greg Orman in Kansas.

Both victories bring a huge sigh of relief to Republicans, whose plans to take control of the Senate would have been made more difficult by a Democratic pickup in Kansas or Georgia.

In a setback for Republicans, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will beat Republican challenger Scott Brown, Fox News projects, despite Brown’s late-surging campaign.

But overall, it’s a very strong night for Republicans as returns continue to come in.

In Kentucky, McConnell defeated Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state. This is a big win for Republicans because Kentucky was one of the few states where Democrats thought they had a chance of flipping a Senate seat from red to blue. It’s also significant because if Republicans take control of the Senate, McConnell will likely seek to replace Democrat Harry Reid as the next Senate majority leader.

In his victory speech, McConnell seemed bullish about his party’s chances.

“Tomorrow, the papers will say I won this race, but the truth is … tonight we begin another one, one that’s far more important than mine — and that’s the race to turn this country around,” McConnell said in Louisville.

He said some things won’t change next year, but lawmakers and the White House don’t have to be in “perpetual conflict” and “have an obligation to work together.”

Polls have closed in several other states, but key races there are too close to call — most notably, in Virginia, where Republican Ed Gillespie is running a late-surging campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.

According to Fox News exit polls, this race is looking much closer than it did in pre-election polling, in which Warner, a former Virginia governor, held a months-long, 20-point lead over Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Gillespie eventually cut that lead in half, but the race now appears even closer.

In Iowa, it is too soon to say who will win the battle between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley for the seat left by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. Ernst, though, has a slight lead.

Polls are also closed in North Carolina, but the crucial Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis is too close to call.

Fox News, though, can project that the Louisiana Senate race will go to a runoff on Dec. 6, meaning there will be no winner Tuesday night. Based on exit polling, Fox projects that three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy will both fail to exceed 50 percent of the vote, sending both into a runoff, this time without competition from candidates such as Republican Rob Maness.

Republicans are aiming for a big election night as polls continue to close in other states — hoping that two years of intensive campaigning will net them the six seats they need to take over the Senate, even as top Democrats vowed their ground game ultimately will keep the Senate in their hands.

At stake are 435 House seats, 36 Senate seats, and another 36 gubernatorial races.

The U.S. Senate battle, with control of Capitol Hill at stake, is the most closely watched. If Republicans win (and keep the House), it gives them full control of Congress during President Obama’s last two years in office.

Fox News also projects that the following Republican incumbents will win: Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi; Sen. Lamar Alexander in Tennessee; Sen. Susan Collins in Maine; Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming; Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina; Sen. Jim Risch in Idaho; Sen. John Cornyn in Texas, Sen. Jeff Sessions in Alabama; and Sen. James Inhofe in Oklahoma. Fox News also can project that Republican James Lankford will win the seat being vacated by Republican Tom Coburn, and serve out the remaining two years of his term.

Fox News projects university president Ben Sasse, a Republican, will beat Democrat David Domina for an open Nebraska Senate seat.

Fox News can project, based on exit polling, that the following Democratic senators will win: Sen. Dick Durbin in Illinois; Sen. Cory Booker in New Jersey; Sen. Brian Schatz in Hawaii; Sen. Jeff Merkley in Oregon; Sen. Tom Udall in New Mexico; Sen. Al Franken in Minnesota; Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts; Sen. Chris Coons in Delaware; and Sen. Jack Reed in Rhode Island.

In Michigan, Democrat Gary Peters is projected to win an open seat.

The Obama factor may weigh heavily over the vote Tuesday night. Fox News Exit Polls show more than a third of voters — 34 percent — said they voted to show they’re opposed to Obama’s policies. That number was a bit higher in 2010.

By contrast, just 20 percent voted to show support for Obama. Forty-five percent said it was not a factor.

The economy is by far the biggest issue for voters; 43 percent said it was the most important issue. Of those worried about the direction of the economy, they voted for the Republican candidate by a 20-point difference, exit polls show.

Most the campaigning and the big money in recent months have concentrated on roughly 10 competitive contests. Seven were for seats held by Democrats: in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Three were for seats held by Republicans: in Georgia, Kansas and Kentucky.

Surprise developments colored the elections in several states — most notably, the Democratic candidate’s decision to drop out of the race for Senate in Kansas. His decision immediately boosted independent Orman in his race against Roberts, who until that race shakeup was leading in the polls. Roberts ultimately survived.

In Kentucky, Grimes also suffered a PR blow after she repeatedly refused to say whether she voted for Obama. In the final days of the race, both campaigns turned to accusing each other of putting out inappropriate mailers.

At the state level, nearly a dozen U.S. governors are considered in political peril, making it one of the toughest years for incumbent governors in decades.