Republicans will likely maintain a razor’s-edge majority in the Senate, The Western Journal projects.
As results filtered in from battleground states late Tuesday, it appeared that efforts from Democrats to regain control of the Senate would come close, but not succeed.
In Tennessee, incumbent Republican Bob Corker’s retirement created an open seat. The contest between former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn drew national attention, and Blackburn won.
In Texas, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke received extensive media attention and spent a massive amount of money in his battle against Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, and he fell short.
In North Dakota, incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was defeated by Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer.
As the campaign moved forward, the dynamics were often shaped by President Donald Trump, who crisscrossed the country on behalf of Republican candidates.
“Even though I’m not on the ballot, in a certain way I am on the ballot,” Trump said Monday. “The press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.”
However, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cautioned against sweeping conclusions.
Christie, a close ally of the president who has been campaigning for GOP candidates, said that the range of hot-button issues means any broad takeaways from the midterms will be limited.
“There are so many different issues out there that are important to different people,” he said.
Christie also said he doubts the election will settle anything.
“I think the country is going to remain in a certain amount of political turmoil until we get to 2020,” he said.
Noting that midterm elections usually represent a setback for a first-term president, Christie said limited losses would be to the “great credit of the president and what Republicans have done.”
Although the Senate’s elections are staggered so that in any given election a third of the Senate is up for grabs, this year’s political chances gave Democrats a battle from the start in trying to control the chamber.
The Democratic math was further complicated by the fact that during the 2016 election Trump won several states where Democrats are battling to re-elect an incumbent.
Of the 35 seats that were vacant, 26 were held by Democrats and nine by Republicans. That meant that in order to build upon their existing strength and gain the majority, Democrats would need to hold every seat and also win in several GOP states.
Control of the Senate has fluctuated throughout the 21st Century. Republicans held a narrow majority from 2003 through 2007, when the chamber tilted to the Democrats. In fact, from 2009 through 2011, Democrats held 57 seats and controlled 59 seats due to the presence of independents who caucused with the Democrats, according to Senate.gov.
The 2014 elections brought a sudden turnabout. Prior to the election, Democrats had 53 seats and had an effective majority of 55 seats due to the presence of independents. That year’s election gave Republicans 54 seats against 46 for Democrats and independents.
When Trump’s term began, Republicans had 52 seats. However, Democrat Doug Jones won in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, giving the GOP a tight 51-49 edge over Democrats and independents caucusing with Democrats.
According to the Senate’s rules, the vice president casts the deciding vote in the event of a tie. That means that if the chamber is split 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican, would cast the deciding vote.
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