What started as an uneven cycle in which Republicans held 23 seats and Democrats 12 quickly turned into a referendum on President Donald Trump and his party.
Control of the United States Senate was on a razor’s edge Tuesday, in an election in which Republicans try to keep their majority against a wave of Democratic challengers vying for the seats of President Donald Trump’s allies on a vast political map.
Both parties see chances of victory, and the end result may not be known on the night of the election.
From New England to the south, from the north central to the mountains, Republican senators are defending their seats in states previously considered almost out of reach for Democrats. The government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, its economic consequences and widespread malaise are all factors. Democrats have received mountains of dollars from millions of Americans who apparently vote with their wallets. Republicans look to their wealthiest donors to prop up their candidates.
Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden have toured states that are crucial to the Senate at the same time that they promoted their own campaigns in the final stretch.
Having a majority in the Senate will be key to the winner of the presidency. Senators confirm the appointments of officials, including cabinet officials, and can push or slow the government’s agenda. With the current Republican majority of 53 to 47, three or four seats will determine the control of the Upper House, depending on who wins the presidency, because in the event of a tie the vice president has the decisive vote.
Current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who faces former Democratic fighter pilot Amy McGrath in his Kentucky state, expressed the hope that he would retain his job alongside Trump, but he acknowledged that control could pass to the Democrats.
Democrats have put Republicans on the defensive deep within Trump territory.
What began as an uneven cycle in which Republicans held 23 seats and Democrats 12 quickly turned into a referendum on the president and his party.
Some of the best known senators they are fighting for their political lives.
In South Carolina, Democrat Jamie Harrison tries to bring down Republican Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s main allies.
The two toured the state on the final leg, and Graham acknowledged the closeness of the contest after Harrison raised a whopping $ 100 million for October, an unprecedented sum for that state.
One of the races that has attracted the most attention is that of Maine, where Republican Susan Collins faces Democrat Sara Gideon. This is one of several contests whose outcome would be known days later if no one exceeds the 50% threshold. Collins has sought votes by presenting herself as a centrist with independent leanings, but the closeness of the contest reveals the difficulty that Republican senators have to win the votes of both Trump’s base and moderate sectors.
Democrats have more than one way to win the three or four seats necessary to win a majority, and several Republican strategists have quietly acknowledged that seats will be lost in some crucial races.