By the narrowest of margins as of __, Republicans will take the Senate majority in the 115th Congress.
There have been few surprises tonight. The GOP took the three seats they were favored to take in Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota, and the party unseated Sen. Mark Warner (R-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), and won an open seat in Iowa with candidate Joni Ernst. The AP reports that Thom Tillis has defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) in an upset in North Carolina.
There remain opportunities for the GOP to make further gains in the Senate. Louisiana will go to a runoff election in December, when polls suggest Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) trails her GOP opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) will also have to defend his seat in what is expected to be a close race. InVirginia, the races for Senate remain so close that it may head to a recount.
Moreover, it looks like the GOP will not lose any seats they held previously and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) will defeat independent challenger Greg Orman.
Regardless of the size of the GOP majority, the headline tomorrow is clear: The GOP has retaken the Senate and Barack Obama will face a GOP-dominated Congress in the final two years of his presidency.
Update (AP): As I write this, with Dan Sullivan in Alaska and Bill Cassidy in Louisiana probable winners as well, the GOP is looking at a nine-seat(!) pick-up. That’s significant not only in giving McConnell a cushion in the Senate through 2016 but in giving the party itself a margin of error when they have to play defense in Senate races in 2016. Sean Trende calculated earlier this year that 54 Republican seats in 2014 would drop the Democrats’ odds of retaking the Senate in 2016 to below 50 percent if a Republican goes on to win the presidency two years from now. If a Democrat wins, the Dems would still have a nearly 60 percent chance of winning back the Senate. (The 2016 map is very favorable to them.) If Ed Gillespie somehow pulls out his race tonight with Mark Warner, though, or Scott Brown ekes past Jeanne Shaheen — the Brown camp insists that race isn’t over, even though it was called — that would be 55. And 55 seats would make it more likely than not that the GOP holds the Senate in 2016 no matter who wins the presidency that year.
Update (AP): You’ve got to be kidding.
SenReid statement: "The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together."
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) November 5, 2014
Update (AP): We’ve been focused on the Senate tonight but if you’re following the returns in other statewide races, you know this is a bloodbath up and down the line. As I’m writing this, tea partier Paul LePage has been reelected governor in bluish-purple Maine. The only race I can think of offhand where the GOP had a real shot and didn’t capitalize was Scott Brown’s loss in New Hampshire. Otherwise it’s a wipeout.
Update (AP): Presented without comment.
But that was not the way Mr. Obama saw it. The electoral map was stacked against him, he argued, making Democrats underdogs from the start. And his own party kept him off the trail, meaning he never really got the chance to make his case. “You’re in the Final Four,” as one aide put it, “and you’re on the bench with a walking boot and you don’t get to play.”
The Republican capture of the Senate culminated a season of discontent for the president — and may yet open a period of even deeper frustration. Sagging in the polls and unwelcome in most competitive races across the country, Mr. Obama bristled as the last campaign that would influence his presidency played out while he sat largely on the sidelines. He privately complained that it should not be a judgment on him. “He doesn’t feel repudiated,” the aide said Tuesday night.
Update (AP): NBC finally finally finally called the Virginia Senate race for Mark Warner shortly before midnight ET, a good four hours after the experts expected them to. That was supposed to be a blowout. The fact that Gillespie took it down to the wire is as much a sign of how wavy this election was than any of the GOP’s victories.
That means the party will probably top out at 54 seats. Unless … red-state Democrat Joe Manchin can be persuaded to switch sides? He’s pretty conservative as is. Might as well join what looks to be a potentially durable majority.
Update (AP): Good lord. Even Sam Brownback, who was supposed to be the anchor that would sink Pat Roberts and the GOP in Kansas, ended up winning. Narrowly.
Update (AP): Well well. Do I hear 55?
Dana Bash on MSNBC saying Maine Sen. Angus King is willing to caucus with GOP.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 5, 2014
Update (AP): Again, it’s not just the Senate. This is a whuppin’ at every level.
ABC News projects that Republicans will gain between 14 and 18 seats in the HOUSE
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) November 5, 2014
Update (AP): Unless O’s up late working out the phrasing, there’ll be no statement this evening from the White House.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 5, 2014