GOP senators swatted down well-funded challenges in Texas, Iowa, South Carolina, Kansas and Montana, Fox News projected. And with each win in these battlegrounds, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is one step closer to holding the GOP majority.
Speaking to reporters shortly after 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, McConnell said it was too early to tell whether Republicans had held the majority, given the number of outstanding races.
“I don’t know whether I’m going to be the majority leader or minority leader … I’ve been both. The majority is better,” McConnell quipped.
Republican Senate candidate Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to supporters at an election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
In one major victory, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., fended off a serious scare from Democrat Jaime Harrison, who raised a record-breaking $107.6 million to challenge the powerful Judiciary Committee chairman. During his victory speech, Graham took aim at all the liberal donors who were banking on a GOP defeat.
“To all the pollsters out there, you have no idea what you are doing. And to all the liberals in California in New York, you wasted a lot of money,” Graham said. “This is the worst return on investment in the history of American politics.”
Republicans were fighting to hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats had only picked up a net gain of one seat, after winning Colorado and Arizona, but losing Alabama.
Competitive races have yet to be called in Maine, Alaska, North Carolina, Michigan and two seats in Georgia that may not be decided until after the new Congress is sworn in next year.
Republican candidate for Senate Sen. Kelly Loeffler greets supporters as she walks on stage at an election night watch party in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Loeffler will be in a run off against Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock for the U.S. Senate seat. (AP Photo/Tami Chappell)
And Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., was beating Democrat Jon Ossoff with 94 percent of the vote counted. If Perdue secures more than 50 percent of the final vote, he’ll avoid a run-off election in January and return to the Senate for another six years.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., speaks at a campaign event before Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Tuesday, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Southfield, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Republicans could still pick up a seat in Michigan where incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is running neck-and-neck with GOP businessman John James as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Heading into Election night, Republicans were on defense with 12 GOP senators in competitive races, compared to only two Democrats in jeopardy.
McConnell had previously pegged the odds of retaining control at 50-50. On Wednesday he said Republicans still need to do better in the suburbs, with women and with college-educated voters, but overall he seemed to think Republicans beat the odds.
“We had overall, I think, a better election than most people thought we were going to have across the country,” McConnell said. “But, yeah, we have improvement we need to make.”