Factbox: Republican Incumbents Hold Off Democratic Challengers For U.S. Senate

3 weeks ago 5

Democrats picked up a seat in Colorado and Republicans picked one up in Alabama in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s elections. In Georgia, a Republican-held seat was now headed to a January runoff.

Republicans currently hold a majority of 53 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The battle spans 14 competitive races, though the final outcome may not be clear for some time. Eight remain to be called.

Democrats need to win four seats to take a majority, or three if Joe Biden wins the White House, which would give a Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

A Democratic victory could lead to a new era in U.S. politics, if the party also captures the White House and holds onto the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here are the results so far, based on projections by television networks and Edison Research:

IOWA

Republican Senator Joni Ernst defeated Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

Ernst used her role in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to appeal to conservative-leaning voters.

Greenfield, an urban planner and real estate developer, accused Ernst of being a rubber stamp for President Donald Trump and not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

GEORGIA

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock were headed to a Jan. 5 run-off election after neither secured a majority in a multi-party, multi-candidate “jungle primary” special election.

The unusual race was prompted by the retirement of Republican Senator Johnny Isakson. Loeffler was appointed last year to fill his seat. The contest featured 21 candidates in all, including another prominent Republican, Representative Doug Collins.

KANSAS

Republican Representative Roger Marshall defeated Democratic state Senator Barbara Bollier in a surprisingly competitive race.

Democrats haven’t won a Senate seat in Kansas, one of the country’s most reliably Republican states, since 1932.

But Bollier mounted a strong challenge in the race for the seat of Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who is retiring.

ALABAMA

Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach, defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones.

Jones had been considered the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate. He won the seat in an upset in 2017 after Republican Jeff Sessions vacated it to become Trump’s attorney general. In a state normally considered safe for Republican candidates, Jones bested former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, whose campaign was snarled by allegations of sexual misconduct with young women.

Tuberville, a popular figure in football-mad Alabama, defeated Sessions’ attempted comeback earlier this year.

COLORADO

Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner.

Gardner, a former U.S. representative who entered the Senate in 2015, was among the most vulnerable Senate Republicans partly because of his allegiance to Trump in a state that has gone Democratic in the last three presidential elections.

Hickenlooper is a former two-term governor and 2020 presidential hopeful. He raised far more money than Gardner and consistently led in opinion polls.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, held off a surprisingly strong challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison, who raised staggering amounts of money.

Graham was last re-elected to the Senate in 2014 with more than 55% of the vote in the deeply Republican state. This year, he faced skepticism from conservative voters who doubted the sincerity of his support for Trump, analysts say, while moderates were disappointed by his loyalist stance.

TEXAS

Veteran Republican Senator John Cornyn held off a challenge from Democrat M.J. Hegar.

Texas, once a Republican stronghold, has grown increasingly competitive in recent years as the population has grown more diverse and Trump’s polarizing presidency has alienated suburban women.

The state became a surprise battleground in this year’s presidential race.

Cornyn, who has been in the Senate since 2002, was projected to win re-election shortly after polls closed.

Here are other races that are likely to determine which party will control the Senate:

REPUBLICAN-HELD SEATS

ALASKA

Freshman Republican Senator Dan Sullivan is favored to hold onto his seat in a closely contested election battle against Al Gross, an independent who is running as the Democratic Party nominee.

The latest polling shows Sullivan with a slim 3 percentage point lead, according to the poll-tracking website FiveThirtyEight.com. But polling data has shifted the lead back and forth in recent weeks. Gross has also out-fundraised Sullivan by a factor of more than 2-to-1.

ARIZONA

Republican Senator Martha McSally lagged Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in fundraising and trails him by an average of nearly 6 percentage points in opinion polls, according to the campaign tracking website RealClearPolitics.com.

McSally, a former U.S. representative and U.S. Air Force combat pilot, was appointed to the seat once held by the late Republican Senator John McCain after losing her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Kelly, a former astronaut and U.S. Navy combat pilot, has been leading McSally in opinion polls for more than a year.

GEORGIA

First-term Republican Senator David Perdue, a wealthy businessman who promotes himself as a Trump ally, trails Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff by a razor-thin 1 percentage point margin, according to RealClearPolitics.com.

Ossoff, an investigative journalist and media executive, ran a powerful campaign for a U.S. House of Representatives special election in 2017 but ultimately lost. Democrats believe he could oust Perdue, partly as a result of public dislike for Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit Georgia hard.

Perdue’s is one of two Georgia Senate seats that could be settled by a January runoff if no candidates receives more than 50% of the vote.

MAINE

Four-term Republican Senator Susan Collins, a New England moderate long known for her independence, has seen her popularity flag among voters amid criticism that she failed to be a moderating force in the Senate during Trump’s presidency.

Her Democratic challenger, Maine House of Representatives Speaker Sara Gideon, leads Collins in opinion polls and has massively out-fundraised the Republican. But the race has tightened in Collins’ favor in recent days, and voters’ second choices could be taken into account under Maine’s unique runoff system if no candidate has more than 50% of the vote.

MONTANA

Republican Senator Steve Daines is running neck-and-neck against two-term Governor Steve Bullock, a former presidential candidate who has branded himself as an independent-minded Democrat. Daines, a former congressman and software executive, is known as a reliable conservative and has touted his ties to Trump.

Bullock was a late entry, jumping into the race in March. But he managed to raise funds quickly and shows signs of holding a small lead over Daines in the final stretch.

NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina has erupted into one of the most dramatic Senate races in the country, with Democrat Cal Cunningham’s candidacy tripped up by a sex scandal after he had dominated the campaign for months.

Once among the Democratic Party’s strongest Senate candidates, Cunningham has seen his double-digit lead over Republican Senator Thom Tillis erode to low single digits. But it is not clear whether a sex scandal in the age of Trump can fully overcome the tide of political polarization that has largely run against Tillis up to now.

DEMOCRATIC HELD SEAT

MICHIGAN

Democratic Senator Gary Peters has a small lead over Republican challenger John James in a state that represents a major battleground for Trump’s re-election bid.

The race leans in Peters’ direction, according to analysts. But James, a Michigan businessman, has run a strong campaign, raising Republican hopes that he could score an upset victory over the incumbent on Election Day.

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