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Democrats appear to be edging closer to securing the presidency for Joe Biden, but the story is a different one in the Senate. Like the White House, it was projected to turn blue, with poll watchers like FiveThirtyEight giving the chamber about a three-in-four chance of shifting to a blue majority. But that hasn’t gone to plan for Democrats, who are increasingly facing a reality that the Senate may remain in the hands of the GOP.
As of now, the Democrats effectively hold 47 seats in the Senate, according to the Associated Press, with independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine caucusing with the party. In the event that Biden wins the presidency, his vice president, Kamala Harris, could break a 50-50 tie in the Senate, meaning Democrats need at least three seats from the remaining five uncalled elections. It’s not impossible, but it’s looking quite difficult for that to happen. Here are the races to keep an eye on:
Michigan represents one of Democrats’ best chances of picking up a seat, but it’s still an extremely close race that is far from guaranteed. As of around 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Democratic incumbent Gary Peters had a minimal 0.3% lead over Republican challenger John James, with about 99% of the vote in, according to the AP. It’s worth noting that many of the remaining votes yet to be counted hail from the Detroit metropolitan area, which tends to vote liberal.
Republican incumbent Thom Tillis declared victory over Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, but the latter has yet to concede. That’s likely because he’s down by just under two percentage points, per the AP’s count, with 7% of the state’s votes yet to be counted. Republicans feel good about holding this seat, but this is still one to keep an eye out on, as mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day are accepted until Nov. 12.
It’s a similar story in Alaska, as the GOP incumbent Dan Sullivan has a sizable 30+ point lead over the independent Al Gross (backed by the Democrats), but only 50% of the vote has been counted so far. Alaska leans Republican, but it has a large number of independent voters, and many absentee ballots won’t be counted for another week.
Any realistic shot of Democrats flipping the Senate may come down to Georgia, which has two seats up for grabs. Let’s propose a scenario in which Democrats hold onto the seat in Michigan but lose in North Carolina and Alaska, where they currently trail. Democrats would then have to win both seats in Georgia to win control, in the event that Biden is indeed declared President-elect.
One of those seats, a special election contest, is going to a January runoff between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. They advance after failing to win a 50% majority in a 20-candidate race, but finishing in the top two. With 95% of the vote reported at the time of writing, Warnock held a six-point lead over Loeffler, though conservative votes in the race were split between her and Republican Doug Collins, who finished third.
In the second senate race, Republican Sen. David Perdue is ahead of Democrat Jon Ossoff by about 145,000 votes with 96% of the vote counted. Slight hope remains for the Democrats with most of the remaining votes coming from the heavily-liberal Atlanta metro region.
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