UPDATE: Republicans picked up three seats in the U.S. Senate as of 1 a.m. Wednesday, including one in the bellwether state of Missouri. Republican Josh Hawley has unseated Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in what was considered a national victory for the GOP. McCaskill was one of 10 Democratic Senate incumbents up for reelection in states President Donald Trump won in 2016. Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general, won 51.8 percent of the vote with 95 percent of precincts reporting.
“Tonight the people of Missouri have said we’re up to the challenge,” Hawley said to a crowd in Springfield, Mo., shortly after McCaskill conceded. “Tonight the people of Missouri have said we believe in America, we believe that our best days are ahead, we believe in our future and we are ready to fight for it.” Trump won the state by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016 and campaigned for Hawley on Monday.
Missouri’s other senator, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, praised Trump for stumping hard for Hawley, saying, “No president in the history of the country has made this kind of effort for a ticket he is not on.”
The White House echoed those comments and credited Trump for helping a number of Republican candidates win Senate victories Tuesday. The GOP’s net gain in the Senate was unclear since races in Florida and Arizona were still too close to call early Wednesday.
“Most of the candidates that the president actually went in and campaigned for and who embrace the president are doing well tonight,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. She called the election “a huge moment and victory for the president.”
UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): Democrats are likely to gain more than the 23 seats they need to take control of the House of Representatives, but major Senate defeats diminished Democrats’ hopes of pulling off their blue wave.
Early on, Democrats flipped two of the 23 seats needed for a House majority. In South Florida, Democrat Donna Shalala defeated television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, while Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton toppled Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia.
Republican Mike Braun’s defeat of incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana likely spelled the end of Democratic hopes to regain a Senate majority. Though Donnelly courted Republican voters with conservative policies, his vote against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Braun’s backing by President Donald Trump combined to topple him.
In Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz fought off a stiff challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a progressive who mounted a formidable, and expensive, race. Cruz kept his seat by fewer than 3 percentage points. O’Rourke netted a host of celebrity endorsements that included Beyoncé and managed to raise more than $38 million.
In Tennessee, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn won her bid for the Senate, defeating Phil Bredesen to keep the seat red, and in West Virginia, incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, the only Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, won reelection against Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey.
As most polls closed, pundits continued to forecast a Democratic-controlled House. Though many of the races are still too close to call, experts are saying one thing is certain: The midterm elections clearly do not represent a triumphant blue wave for Democrats.
“You can’t have a wave election when both sides are energized,” conservative commentator and former Sen. Rick Santorum told CNN.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Democratic wave looked more like a “ripple,” but added that there is still a “long way to go.”
OUR EARLIER REPORT (9:45 p.m.): Results are trickling in for the midterm contests that will determine control of Congress and set the stage for the remaining two years of the Trump administration. Pollsters have predicted Democrats will reclaim the House of Representatives and Republicans will maintain control of the Senate.
Democrats needed to gain a net of at least 23 seats in the House to win a majority. All 435 House seats are up for grabs, and early returns showed a favorable forecast for Democrats, including in several competitive districts. In Virginia’s 10th District, Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton unseated Republican incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock by 10 percentage points. In Kentucky, Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Barr fended off Democratic challenger Amy McGrath to hold onto the 6th District. Democrats hoped to pick that seat up but failed by a margin of 3 points.
In the Senate, Republicans are looking to maintain or increase their slim 51-49 majority by picking up a couple of seats, including Indiana, where GOP challenger Mike Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly by 11 percentage points. In Florida, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson is facing a stiff challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who led by less than a percentage point with 95 percent of precincts reporting.
Meanwhile, Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) easily nabbed reelection. Democratic incumbent Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia had a tougher time but held on to their seats.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.