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Senate Update: Democrats Retain Majority

Updated 12:37 a.m. | As Election Day folded into Nov. 7, the only question remaining in the fight for the Senate was the size of the Democratic majority.

Democrats were looking at a net gain of two seats, with just two Democratic-held seats and one Republican seat left to be called. That meant the Democratic majority could be no lower than 53-47, exactly where it was at the beginning of the cycle.

“When we started this campaign, no one, and I mean no one gave us a chance.  But we went out and built the best Senate campaigns in the history of the country,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) said in a statement. “We recruited some of the highest quality candidates, including a record number of women. Democrats never let up, and now we will retain our majority in the United States Senate.”

The Associated Press called the Wisconsin Senate race after midnight, with Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) topping former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) for the seat of retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D). That left two Democratic-held seats yet to be called: in Montana, where Sen. Jon Tester (D) faced Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), and in North Dakota, where former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) faced Rep. Rick Berg (R) for the seat of retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D).

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) was looking to hold on against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D), even as President Barack Obama carried the state.


Updated 11:25 p.m. | Democrats will retain control of the Senate.

Tim Kaine’s (D) victory in Virginia and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) re-election took two more pickup opportunities off the map for Republicans and left the GOP without enough states left to complete its quest for the majority.

With the presidential contest now called for President Barack Obama, Democrats would control the Senate even in the event of a 50-50 tie, as Vice President Joseph Biden would cast the deciding vote.

A few outstanding races will decide the final Senate count. Democrats are hoping to defeat Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and win the open Arizona seat. Republicans are looking to defeat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and win the open North Dakota seat.

Democrats have so far picked up seats in Indiana, Maine and Massachusetts. Republicans have picked up the open seat in Nebraska.


Updated 10:21 p.m. | Even as several key states remained too close to call, developments during the past hour made it highly unlikely that Republicans could win a majority in the Senate.

Victories in Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren and in Indiana for Rep. Joe Donnelly increased to six the number of Democratic seats Republicans would need for a 50-50 tie.

Democrats came into the day with a 53-47 majority. Republicans have now lost three of their own Senate seats: Massachusetts, Indiana and Maine.

Missouri appeared likely to be won by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), but the Associated Press had not yet called the race. Republicans still have a solid chance of winning in Montana, Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. They also have opportunities in New Mexico and Hawaii, but those are long shots.

Democrats still have two more Republican-held seats they could pick up in Nevada and Arizona.

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