CNN expects Democrats to maintain their narrow Senate edge over the next two years after victories in tight races in Nevada and Arizona.
The party defied a historical trend of breaking with the parties in power in midterm elections, overcoming anxiety about high inflation, cementing its majority as voters rejected Republican candidates aligned with former President Donald Trump and in many cases Repeating his lies about widespread electoral fraud.
Retaining control of the Senate is a huge boost for the remaining two years of President Joe Biden’s first term in the White House, with a pending Senate race that will determine the final balance of power in the House — and the leverage of the president’s party rate will eventually.
“I think it reflects the quality of our candidates,” Biden told reporters in Cambodia shortly after CNN and other news outlets predicted Democrats would maintain their Senate majority. “They’re all running on the same process. It’s not that anyone isn’t doing what we’re doing,” Biden continued.
Democrats will be able to confirm Biden’s judicial nominee — avoiding the situation former President Barack Obama faced in 2016, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garrison Lan to vote. It also means Senate Democrats can reject bills passed by the House and can set their own agenda.
A victory in the Senate comes with control of the House of Representatives – widely expected to win the Republican majority – still up for grabs. Ballots are still being counted in key areas in some states, including California, Arizona and Oregon, with a large percentage of mail-in ballots. Even if Democrats don’t retain control of the House, they could give Republicans a minority and unruly majority.
Democrats now hold 50 Senate seats, compared with 49 for Republicans, after CNN predicted Democratic victories in Arizona on Friday and Nevada on Saturday. While control of the chamber no longer matters, the Georgia Senate runoff will determine the size of the Democratic majority.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker face off on Dec. 6 after neither candidate passed the 50 percent threshold on Tuesday .
Biden said he was “looking forward to the next few years” with Democrats and said he was now focused on Georgia’s Senate runoff, acknowledging that 51 seats in the Senate would be better.
“It’s just better, the bigger the numbers, the better,” he said.
The Senate is currently tied, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, but that means Democrats have no extra votes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday night called Democrats’ control of the Senate “proof” of the party’s agenda and said it amounted to a rejection of “anti-democratic, extremist, MAGA Republicans.”
“Oh, and one more thing, I can’t forget, we’ve staunchly defended women’s right to choose,” Schumer said, referring to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“Because the American people finally elected Democrats in the Senate, there is now a firewall against the threat of a nationwide abortion ban that many Republicans talk about.”
Only one Senate seat has changed hands so far in the 2022 midterms: Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigned while recovering from a stroke in May, defeating Republican Mohamed O. Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Democrats defied political gravity to deliver a surprisingly strong midterm performance. CNN exit poll shows that 49% of voters say they disapprove of Biden a bit, while 45% support the Republican Party; 62% of voters who say the economy is in “not very good” vote for Democrats, while 35% of voters voted Republicans.
Republicans successfully defended their seats in tight races in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, while Democrats held on to tight races in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire .
Ultimately, the battle for control of the Senate falls to Arizona and Nevada — two states that have large numbers of mail-in ballots and rules that could slow down the processing of those ballots.
In Arizona, CNN predicted Democratic senators. Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of a former congressman. Gabrielle Giffords will defeat Republican Blake Masters, a venture capitalist endorsed by Trump and backed by tech mogul and emerging Republican mega-donor Peter Thiel.
In Nevada, CNN predicted Democratic senators. Former prosecutor and state attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto will defeat Republican Adam Laxalt, her successor in the attorney general’s office, who is also Son and grandson of a former senator.
Both Masters and Laxalt have at times embraced and parodied Trump’s lies about the pervasiveness of election fraud in 2020.
Laxalter, who co-chaired Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign in Nevada and played a leading role in the legal effort to reverse the outcome of that election, which he said was “rigged.” Cortez Masto has argued that lies and election conspiracy theories espoused by allies such as Trump and Laxalter contributed to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Masters released a campaign video while running for the Republican nomination in which he said he believed Trump had won the 2020 election.
After winning the Senate primary, Masters appeared to temporarily back off some extreme rhetoric — for example, scrubbing his website, which included language that falsely claimed the election was stolen. During his debate with Kelly, he also admitted he saw no evidence of fraud that would alter the outcome of the election. But the Republican candidate appeared to change course after receiving a call from Trump urging him to “get stronger” on rejecting the election, a conversation captured in a Fox documentary.
This story has been updated with more developments.