GOP Strongly Favored to Retain Senate Majority Despite Pollsters’ Doom and Gloom Predictions

GOP Strongly Favored to Retain Senate Majority Despite Pollsters’ Doom and Gloom Predictions

If we didn’t get quite the results we’d hoped for on Tuesday night, at least it’s unlikely we’ll have to contend with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Going into Election Day, the possibility of a Democrat controlled Senate loomed large. Nearly every pollster and liberal cable host said so.

Republicans had to defend 23 seats this election cycle, compared to only 13 for the Democrats.

Democrats needed to pick up only three Senate seats if former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidency or four seats if he lost. All of the major polls predicted that this could be easily achieved.

As it stands at 8 am on Wednesday morning, Republicans are strongly positioned to maintain control of the upper chamber. They’ve lost two seats, picked up one and may pick up another. This will leave them with either 52 or 53 seats.

The Special Election for the Georgia Senate Seat

It also remains possible that Republicans could lose one additional seat.

When former Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned from the Senate for health reasons last year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to replace him. State law required a special election to be held this November. If no individual received more than 50 percent of the vote (and no one did), the top two highest finishers would face each other in a runoff scheduled for January 5, 2021.

Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, received 32 percent and Loeffler, 26.4. The next highest finisher was Republican Rep. Doug Collins, with a 20.4 percent share of the vote. Collins conceded the race on Tuesday night and threw his support behind Loeffler. There were seventeen others in the race whose support will likely go to one of these two candidates. Such a scenario favors Loeffler by several points, but the outcome is impossible to predict. The results of this race can be viewed here.

If all else remains the same, and the second pick up mentioned above doesn’t materialize, and Loeffler loses to Warnock, Republicans will still hold 51 seats and thus, a majority, albeit a small one.

Two Seats Lost

It was widely expected that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) would lose his race to the state’s former Governor, John Hickenlooper. He did. The popular Hickenlooper, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, easily defeated Gardner, 53.9 to 44.

In Arizona, Sen. Martha McSally (R) lost her seat to former astronaut Mark Kelly (D). The far left liberal is the husband of former Rep. Gabby Gifford. McSally has trailed Kelly since polling began in this race in February. The final RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Kelly leading by 5.7 percent. Kelly won with 52.6 percent of the vote compared to McSally’s 47.4 percent.

McSally, a former military pilot, served two terms in the House representing Arizona’s 2nd congressional district. She ran for the Senate in 2018 and lost to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

In December 2018, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl. (Kyl had been called out of retirement to fill the vacant seat of the late John McCain.)

One Pick Up, A Second Possible

Republicans picked up a seat in Alabama. Sen. Doug Jones (D) lost decisively to former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville (R). The final tally was 61.4 to 38.6 percent. Jones’ defeat had been widely anticipated.

He ran in a 2017 special election for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ seat. Sessions had resigned to become the U.S. Attorney General.

Jones’ Republican opponent was former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. “A month before the election, Moore was alleged to have sexually assaulted and otherwise acted inappropriately with several females, including some who were minors at the time. Jones won the special election by 22,000 votes.”

A Democratic senator in bright red Alabama wasn’t expected to last long. And he did not.

It’s possible there could be another GOP pick up in Michigan. With 87 percent of precincts having reported, newcomer John James is currently ahead of Democratic incumbent Gary Peters by 0.5 percent, 49.3 to 48.8. Unfortunately, every time I check back on this race, James’ lead appears to have dwindled.

It should come as no surprise that in all but two polls, James was forecast to lose to Peters. As late as October 31, a CNN poll had Peters ahead by ten points. Two polls conducted by the Trafalgar group each showed James with a one point lead. Peters led by 5.4 percent in the final RCP average of polls.

Even if James loses this race, Republicans would still occupy 51 seats, allowing the party to maintain control of the Senate.

Vulnerable Seats Retained by the GOP

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) faced a tough battle in South Carolina against Democrat Jaime Harrison. This race attracted large amounts of out-of-state money and Graham was greatly outspent. In the end, however, Graham prevailed over his well-financed rival. The final result was 55.8 to 42.9 percent, not even close.

According to the polls, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst was headed toward near certain defeat by Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Ernst won the race handily by a 51.8 to 45.2 percent margin.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) had lagged behind his rival, Cal Cunningham, since polling began in June. In early October, it was reported that Cunningham had engaged in an extramarital affair. Although this may have slowed his momentum, an NBC/Marist poll reported on October 29 favored Cunningham by 10 points.

This race has not been called. However, with 100% of precincts reporting, Tillis is ahead of Cunningham by a margin of 48.7 to 46.9 percent.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was widely expected to lose her seat to opponent Sara Gideon. Although only 87% of precincts have reported, Collins, with 50.9 percent of the vote, is currently ahead of Gideon with 42.5 percent, an 8.4 percent margin. Virtually every poll of this race signaled a decisive Gideon win.

Collins has faced tough reelection fights before, but many politicos believed this was the end of her senate career.

The polls signaled that Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ seat in Montana was vulnerable. In the end, he beat his competitor, Steve Bullock, quite easily. The final result was 54.6 to 45.4 percent.

There was also some concern that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) might lose his race. He won by ten points.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was thought to be in some danger as well. In the end, he crushed his adversary, easily and early. My colleague, John Hawkins, reported specifically on this race.

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