Republicans will maintain control of the Senate after Tuesday night's elections, NBC News projects, navigating Donald Trump’s polarizing candidacy to win nearly all of the party’s most competitive races.
It was a surprising turn in a night of stunning upsets that included Trump winning the presidency. Where Democrats once saw Trump as their greatest opening for attack on Senate Republicans and tied them to the GOP nominee at every turn, his unexpectedly strong showing on Tuesday night turned out to be more of an asset than an issue for down-ballot Republicans.
In North Carolina, for example, where public polls showed Sen. Richard Burr locked in a tight battle with Democrat Deborah Ross, Burr was leading Ross by 7 points with most of the state’s vote counted. Trump led Clinton there by about 4 points.
Senate control became clear after NBC News projected Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey won reelection in a race that was emblematic of the challenge Trump initially posed to Republicans. The Republican repeatedly refused to declare who he planned to vote for on Election Day, a dodge Democrats used against him for weeks.
Republicans currently hold 51 seats, a number that could grow by two. The race in New Hampshire, incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte is locked in tight race with Gov. Maggie Hassan And in Louisiana, that race for that Republican-held seat will go to a December runoff between Republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.
But he eventually voted Trump, and both Toomey and Trump took the state with near-identical margins, both taking about 49 percent support with most of the state’s vote in.
The Senate win gives the GOP full control of Congress, offering wide latitude for Trump to pass his policies.