Senate Republicans on Tuesday are poised to keep the majority in 2021, defying polls that indicated Democrats could defeat a slew of incumbent GOP lawmakers and win back the gavel they lost in 2014.
Democrats needed to pick up four seats to regain the majority but are on track so far for a net gain of just one seat. They have so far defeated only two Republican incumbents and were on track to lose up to two of their own seats.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, appeared poised to overcome and defeat Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, while Republican Joni Ernst vanquished Democrat Theresa Greenfield in Iowa.
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina held a narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, while Sen. Lindsey Graham easily defeated Democratic challenger Jaimie Harrison in South Carolina by a double-digit margin that outperformed polls that showed a tied race.
Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, appeared on track to defeat Democratic challenger Steve Bullock by 10 points.
All of the seats were considered toss-up races, and in the Maine race, Collins is so far beating polls that showed her consistently trailing Gideon.
Republicans were on track to pick up two Senate seats. In Michigan, Republican John James early Tuesday held a 1-point lead over Democratic incumbent Gary Peters, although many ballots remain uncounted.
Republican Tommy Tuberville easily defeated incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama.
“I have a very hard time right now seeing how Democrats win back the Senate,” Jessica Taylor, an editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, tweeted early Tuesday.
Democrats had hoped to flip half a dozen seats to reclaim the majority and implement Democratic initiatives. Some Democrats aimed to eliminate the legislative filibuster and vote to expand the Supreme Court with new justices nominated by Biden.
The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, was poised to become majority leader.
Instead, the gavel will likely remain in the hands of Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who won a seventh term Tuesday by easily defeating Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.
If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden maintains his lead in key states and becomes president, McConnell will play a key role in blocking the agenda of Biden and House Democrats, who are on track to maintain the majority. Democratic Party lawmakers pledged to advance an agenda that would expand Obamacare, reform campaign finance, and address climate change.
Now that plan will likely be dashed by a GOP-led Senate led by McConnell.
McConnell has been the majority leader since 2015. He cemented his legacy confirming hundreds of conservative judicial picks to the federal bench and by helping to reshape the Supreme Court, potentially for a decade to come.
McConnell made the key decision in 2016 to ignore President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly.
Republicans were able to fill the seat in 2017 with Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
McConnell helped ensure confirmation of embattled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct while in high school.
McConnell also made the key decision to hold a vote last week to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett over the staunch objections of Democrats, who said the president who wins the election should nominate a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
McConnell will play a critical role in 2021, no matter who wins the White House.
McConnell will either stand in the way of the Democratic House and a Biden administration’s Democratic agenda, or he will work with the Trump administration to fill more federal judicial vacancies.
Source: Washington Examiner: Senate Republicans, defying polls, appear on path to hold majority