At the top of the list was Sen. Joe Manchin, who overperformed the deep, red hue of West Virginia by 33 points. He defeated Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey by a 3-point margin. Granted, this race was much closer for Manchin than his previous Senate victories in 2010 and 2012, but it’s still impressive in a state that leans 30 points more Republican than the country as a whole. In Minnesota, Democrats found more solid footing as Sen. Amy Klobuchar outperformed her state’s baseline by 22 points and won reelection by a whopping 24 points. Minnesota is only 2 points more Democratic than the rest of the country, so this has some people wondering if she could leverage her landslide victory into a case for her party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana also outperformed his state’s partisan baseline by 22 points, but unlike Klobuchar, his contest was in a much redder state, and as a result, he won with a 4-point margin. While this is a slim margin of victory, it was the first time that Tester won an outright majority of the vote, having failed to do so in his 2006 or 2012 Senate wins. Although Sen. Heidi Heitkamp ran 22 points ahead of North Dakota’s partisan lean of R+33, it wasn’t enough to squeak out a second victory.4 She lost to Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer by 11 points.
Indiana and Missouri also had Democratic incumbents who outperformed their state’s partisan lean by double digits, but it wasn’t enough to save either of them. In Indiana, Sen. Joe Donnelly lost reelection by 6 points while running 12 points ahead of his state’s lean, and in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill also lost by 6 points while doing 13 points better than Missouri’s R+19 baseline would suggest. So while these Democrats did much better than one would expect based on how red their states are, they did not perform well enough to actually win. Certainly troubling news for Democrats running in statewide elections in other red states.