10:05 in the morning Wednesday: I’ll confess that I had to throw in the towel at midnight… because I’m old. Also because I still had to be up at zero dark thirty for the morning shift here on the site. Some of these races just took too long to call and one of them is still up in the air. In the end, in addition to Todd Young and Richard Burr, we wound up going four for four in the decided races. Roy Blunt scored a 49-46 victory in Missouri and Pat Toomey pulled out a slender win over McGinty by roughly 100K votes. The only one we don’t know about yet is New Hampshire. Kelly Ayotte is currently trailing Maggie Hassan but the difference is only 870 votes out of more than 690K cast for the two of them. We’ll probably do a separate thread when that one is finally called but we’re probably going to have to wait for a recount.
In any event, it was a big night for the GOP in the upper chamber and we will retain the majority without needing a tie breaker from Mike Pence no matter how the last couple of races fall.
12:05: We’re up to 75% reporting in Missouri now and while it’s still too close to call, Roy Blunt has opened up a 51-45 lead which will be hard to overcome. Jason Kander had a lot of baggage to overcome and he might not do it.
10:55: Mark another one up for the GOP. Burr has been projected as the winner in North Carolina. Congrats, Senator!
10:36: Things in New Hampshire are not settled yet, but the earlier lead of Maggie Hassan has evaporated with nearly half of the vote recorded. Kelly Ayotte is up 49-46 with a late surge. Too soon to call, but the signs are hopeful for the GOP.
10:16: Down in Missouri they are still being painfully slow to count votes. But a shift is underway. Roy Blunt has moved into an encouraging lead 54-41. There is something of an air of momentum building.
9:28: Swinging back to North Carolina it’s going back and forth like a ping pong ball. Richard Burr is back in the lead, but it’s a slim margin just like in the POTUS race. It’s 50-46 but there’s still half the race to go.
8:45: We have our first closer! Indiana has been called for Todd Young. Currently stands at 55-41 with about half the votes counted. Congratulations Senator!
8:28: In North Carolina it’s a seesaw similar to Florida’s presidential race. Richard Burr has fallen behind slightly and Deborah Ross has something to be happy about… at least for now. It’s 49-47 but we’ve only got 9% of the vote.
8:04:We’re starting to get some votes in from New Hampshire which closed more than an hour ago, but they’re slow up there. With barely 5% of the vote in, Maggie Hassan is up 55-40. At this point nobody is calling any of these closely contested races.
7:45: We have our first update from North Carolina and while it’s also still early, Richard Burr is off to an early lead with a 53-43 margin. It’s less than 450K votes cast so far so there’s no popping of champagne corks yet.
7:30: More votes coming in from Indiana and while closing a bit, Todd Young is holding on to a 56-38 lead. He’s got to like the early numbers.
6:45: Our first results are in from Indiana but it’s far too slim to base anything on. With 1% of the vote in, Todd Young jumped out to a 60-34 lead, but that’s less than 60K votes. We should find out more in the next hour.
Original article continues below:
I realize that most of the attention is focused on the big ticket race at the top, but regardless of who moves into the West Wing in January we’re going to need to keep control of the Senate. That’s far from a sure thing so there are a few close races in particular that I want to keep an eye on. We’ll be updating this post at the top as results come in, but let’s take a quick look at the races of interest. NBC News provided a fairly comprehensive look at the nine closest ones, but here are the five which I’m watching most closely.
Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey (R) v Katie McGinty (D)
Our Lucy and the Football center of activity every four years is once again being contested. There’s nothing in the polls which say that Trump won’t do anything but come close here but his fortunes might deliver some huge fallout for Senator Pat Toomey. Elected in the 2010 GOP wave, this was always going to be a tough race. Toomey has been cagey as to whether or not he would vote for Trump himself but he certainly hasn’t endorsed him. That doesn’t seem to be helping his chances because the latest RCP average has him down two points, inside the margin of error. If Trump can somehow drive enough Republicans to the polls and Toomey attracts some ticket splitters he could still pull this one out.
Indiana: Todd Young (R) v Evan Bayh (D)
This is another tough race for the GOP. This seat is open this year, but Bayh held it before (along with being Governor) and came into the race with huge name recognition, a lot of cash in his war chest and decent popularity numbers. But this race has shifted a lot in the polls since early October when Todd Young was being essentially shut out. Young supported Trump while being critical of some of the stories which got The Donald in trouble this fall. What once looked like a safe bet for the Democrats to steal one back from the GOP could still be saved if things break our way tonight.
Missouri: Roy Blunt (R) v Jason Kander (D)
I’ve written about this race multiple times and it continues to fascinate me. State Attorney General Jason Kander has a lot of baggage to answer for, from being a Kansas native to some sketchy campaign contributions he’s taken. Still, he’s kept himself within striking distance of Blunt. If we somehow manage to lose this one it could be a very bad night for the GOP indeed.
North Carolina: Richard Burr (R) v Deborah Ross (D)
As I wrote about previously, this race is a dead heat in the polls and it’s a bit of a head scratcher as to why. Burr is a two term Senator with solid numbers and wasn’t expected to have much trouble. In fact, he didn’t really start campaigning in earnest until September when Ross began to close on him. It’s a fair bet that this may be an actual case of the Trump effect since Burr has said he will be voting for the nominee and that race is also tied here. It may come down to which presidential candidate prevails and Burr may wind up riding those coattails to either victory or defeat.
New Hampshire: Kelly Ayotte (R) v Maggie Hassan (D)
Senator Kelly Ayotte is another alumnus from the class of 2010 and since this is New Hampshire it was always going to be a challenging race. Add in the fact that she’s facing off against a sitting Governor and you’ve got a recipe for a pick by the Democrats. But this one is polling so close, switching back and forth over the fall, that I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it either way. Ayotte has never completely distanced herself from Trump but she’s not embraced him either. That may be ticking off some of Trump’s diehard supporters in the state. For her part, Hassan has been tied at the hip to Hillary Clinton in a hard hitting advertising campaign. The last polls showed Ayotte with a lead, but it was far too small to take to the bank. This one may go late into the evening.