The battle for the Senate was set to devolve into a days-long nail-biter early Wednesday, with races in two key Western states not likely to be decided until later this week.
As of 1 a.m., Democrats had secured 48 Senate seats and Republicans had 47 — with Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman flipping the Keystone State’s open seat in a hammer blow to the GOP.
At the beginning of the night, Republicans had high hopes of regaining control of the upper chamber of Congress, and needed a net gain of just one seat to do so. GOP Senate campaign chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) confidently predicted in the afternoon that Republicans would win “52-plus” seats.
As the night wore on, GOP attitudes grew more pessimistic as expected romps were still too close to call hours after the polls closed — and races where Republicans thought they had a shot proved well out of reach.
In Wisconsin, GOP incumbent Ron Johnson struggled to shake Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes after pre-election polls showed Johnson pulling away in the race’s final weeks.
In New Hampshire, where polls had shown the Senate race tightening in the final days before the election, Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan was projected to win a second six-year term by easily defeating GOP challenger Don Bolduc.
In Colorado, moderate Republican businessman Joe O’Dea was no match for Democrat Michael Bennet, who was projected to easily win a third term in the increasingly blue state.
The GOP also struggled in the four toss-up Senate seats that prognosticators said held the key to the majority.
In Arizona, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly led Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters by 17 percentage points with half the expected vote in. Voting day in the Grand Canyon State had been marred by issues with tabulation machines across Maricopa County, the state’s most populous — though election officials insisted it would not affect the results.
In Georgia, neither Republican Herschel Walker nor Democrat Raphael Warnock appeared likely to breach the 50% threshold needed to avoid a Dec. 6 run-off.
In Nevada, a reported shortage of election personnel in Clark County — where Las Vegas is located — meant mail-in ballots postmarked on Tuesdaymight not be counted until Thursday. That Democratic firewall could keep incumbent Catherine Cortez-Masto in the Senate for another six years.
And in Pennsylvania, the focus of so much angst from both parties, Fetterman was projected to defeat Oz despite struggling to recover from a May stroke that left him barely able to form coherent sentences when the two men met in Harrisburg for their only debate Oct. 25.
The GOP was defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs Tuesday night, with six Republican stalwarts — Richard Shelby of Alabama, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — departing Congress in January.
Republicans held on to at least five of those six seats, electing Katie Britt in Alabama, Eric Schmitt in Missouri, Ted Budd in North Carolina, JD Vance in Ohio and Markwayne Mullin in Oklahoma.
In Vermont, Peter Welch became just the second Democrat ever elected to the Senate by the Green Mountain State, replacing the first — retiring Senate President Pro Tem Patrick Leahy.
Mixed in among the new faces will be some old stalwarts.
In Iowa, 89-year-old GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley was elected to an eighth term, defeating retired Navy Adm. Michael Franken.
In reliably red Louisiana, GOP Sen. John Kennedy won a second term, while in Connecticut, Democrat Richard Blumenthal won a third term.
In Washington state, Democrat Patty Murray was projected to win a sixth term, despite her campaign warning media members that close polls could mean the race would not be settled on election night.
In Utah, Republican Mike Lee held off independent Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who also ran a third-party candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. There were also easy wins for GOP Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, John Thune of South Dakota, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
On the Democratic side, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer won a fifth term to become New York’s longest-serving senator, surpassing Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Alex Padilla of California, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Ron Wyden of Oregon.