Democrats Keep Senate Control

With a win in Nevada, the party will retain at least 50 seats.

NBC News:

Democrats defied historical trends and defeated several candidates backed by former President Donald Trump to keep control of the Senate, providing enormous relief for President Joe Biden.

The battle for the House, meanwhile, remains too close to call.

The picture in the Senate became clear late Saturday after Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada narrowly defeated Republican Adam Laxalt to win re-election, putting her party over the threshold, NBC News projected Saturday.

“Thank you, Nevada!” Cortez Masto said in a tweet Saturday evening after its two most populous counties, Clark and Washoe, finished counting mail-in ballots.

Which means Chuck Schumer keeps his job:

“I feel good for the country. Because so many people worried — I did — about this democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference late Saturday. “America showed that we believe in our democracy. That the roots of our democracy are deep and strong. And that it will prevail as long as we fight for it.”

He added that Republicans were hampered by “flawed challengers who had no faith in democracy, no fidelity to the truth or honor.”

That’s not exactly conciliatory but he ain’t wrong, either. Indeed, this includes Laxalt, who managed to lose in a state where voters split their tickets, easily electing a MAGA governor.

Which means the Georgia runoff is now gravy. But gravy is good.

Masto’s victory means Democrats will hold the Senate regardless of the outcome of Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff election, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will face each other again after neither cleared the 50% threshold required under state law. 

A Walker win would keep the Senate 50-50, where Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote for Democrats.

A Warnock victory would make it 51-49, giving Democrats one extra vote in a chamber where they have often been stymied by internal dissent from members like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Biden can now count on partners in the Senate to confirm his judicial and administration appointments, even if his legislative agenda ends up effectively blocked because of a Republican takeover of the House. 

“I feel good and I’m looking forward to the next couple years,” Biden told reporters, reacting to the Senate result at close to 11 a.m. local time in Cambodia where the president is attending a summit of world leaders. He credited the quality of the candidates and said they were all “running on the same program.”

I can’t imagine Walker wins the runoff, given both Walker’s clear deficits and the fact that Democrats will be substantially more motivated.

But the difference from 50-50 with Harris breaking ties and 51-49 is actually substantial and not just because it means Manchin and Sinema would have less power. It also means a true majority, which means Democratic committee chairs.

Presuming Republicans eke out a tiny House majority, as is still widely expected, the President will get very little legislation passed regardless. But retaining the Senate means he’ll be able to continue to fill judicial vacancies including, if one arises, on the Supreme Court.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2022, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Lounsbury says:

    It would appear that Biden and the Democrats have ended up with a near ideal result, in the context of real constraints, MidTerms in the USA, and electoral structure: particularly for 2024.

    A narrow majority in the House for the Republicans would seem likely a poisoned chalice – tearing them between MAGA and non-MAGA factions, between Trump influence and not. Unlikely to be profitable for them as one rather has the impression McCarthy is a weak-willed bungler unlike his Senate counterpart

    While at same time inoculating Democrats from full ownership of 2024 state of play and from the foolish overreach of the far Left factions.

    Best of all, it would appear to damage Trump enough that while one can guess from his pure narcisistic self-interest he will pursue 2024, it will be as a wounded beast, and clearly a handicap, likely a bleed-out and eventual humiliation. Inchallah as we say.

    2
  2. CSK says:

    I think you can pretty much guarantee that Walker will lose.

    1
  3. Michael Cain says:

    @CSK:
    A Warnock win means no more power-sharing arrangement with McConnell. Real control of committees is important.

    5
  4. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I know. The MAGAs don’t seem to blame Trump. They blame McConnell.

    1
  5. Kylopod says:

    The quantum physicists were right. A wave is a particle.

    14
  6. Scott F. says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Considering the run of election results in 2018, 2020, and now 2022, the “foolish Left” framing of yours really doesn’t play. Not that you’ll drop it.

    13
  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Gen Z boned Republicans up the arse.
    A week ago Rand Paul was bragging about subpoenaing all manner of Fauci documents.
    Sit yourself down, bitch.
    Ted Cruz was bloviating about the process of choosing a new Senate Leader.
    Sit yourself down, bitch.
    House Republicans have been going on and on about impeachment(s).
    Sit yourselves down, bitches.
    The battle for House Speaker is going to be a blast to watch.
    And in the meantime 100 federal judicial openings will continue to be filled by Biden…the most consequential President in generations.

    11
  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott F.:
    Now, now. It’s not polite to kick a sanctimonious prick when he’s down.

    3
  9. charon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Could also be handy going into 2024 when the Senate map will be difficult for Dems.

    2
  10. Kylopod says:

    @charon:

    Could also be handy going into 2024 when the Senate map will be difficult for Dems.

    Definitely. Currently the only Republican seats up in 2024 are in red states. Meanwhile, Dems will have to defend Joe Manchin’s seat in WV, Jon Tester’s in Montana, and Sherrod Brown’s in Ohio–on top of Jacky Rosen in Nevada, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow in MI, and Bob Casey in PA.

    I have a feeling Manchin won’t run again, which means the seat is gone to Dems for the foreseeable future. Montana and Ohio will be tough, but possibly doable. The rest will depend on a lot of factors. That means Dems will almost certainly lose at least one seat. (Are there any pickup opportunities? Maybe Ted Cruz in Texas. That’s about as good as it will get for us.) If Warnock wins the runoff, we at least have a path. Otherwise, the Senate is as good as gone by ’24.

  11. wr says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: “And in the meantime 100 federal judicial openings will continue to be filled by Biden…the most consequential President in generations.”

    And here’s my first pick… .if Katie Porter doesn’t win her race, put her on the Ninth Circuit.

    6
  12. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: My Trumper secretary deemed it the Red Sneeze. She’s Team Red but generally a good sport.

    2
  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kylopod:

    The dems also need to replace Sinema in Arizona if they want to win that race

    3
  14. Lounsbury says:

    @Scott F.: A run of elections where there is underperformance despite other factors – this MidTerm not being in such a category – is not data upon which I revise a view. Nor in this particular election do I see in the proper data available at this time anything revising my core observation made over the past years that converting the floating centre oriented independents in narrow contests should pay off (and the data rather suggest it did) and not basing election positioning on coastal educated urbanites to the detriment of centre appeal in the other geographies.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Down? What a bizarre thing to say. I am quite pleased.
    The Left party political partisans apparently being unable understand not engaging partisan team cheerleading.

    Rather this year looks well done as the most solid data available to date suggest above all abortion and the appeals on the abortion access as social liberty side seem to have been generally modulated and well placed, broadly motivational across to independents and not just party activists. It is rather the sort of thing of conversion on the margins on addressable audiences I rather have wanted to see as the path to sinking Trump.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The dems also need to replace Sinema in Arizona if they want to win that race

    I forgot about that. I think Mark Kelly’s relatively easy reelection has cemented the fact that her brand doesn’t even have a political rationale like Manchin in WV; Kelly has proven that it is possible to win as a Dem in AZ without resorting to that behavior.

    Currently, the front-runner to replace her is Ruben Gallego. There’s a good chance she doesn’t even run, if she sees the writing on the wall.

    2
  16. Daryl and my brother Darryl says:

    @wr:
    I think Porter is going to be okay.

  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Lounsbury:

    broadly motivational across to independents and not just party activists

    Well that mis-reading would certainly vindicate your tired thesis. But completely ignores the MASSIVE youth turnout, which is what ACTUALLY won this election.

    4
  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Now that the senate is (D)…

    I would like to see the remaining ballots counted and have the House go (D) as well.

    If but for only ONE reason: So that when a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress rule for two years, the MAGA will be shocked… SHOCKED! that the Democrats did not proceed immediately with concentration camps and the systematic execution of all conservatives.

    After all, that is what their fundraising and rallies have been saying… just another nail in the GOP 2024 election coffin.

    Imagine all those retirees suddenly realizing that they have blown their life savings for nothing.

  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kylopod:

    My concern is that given her tendency to cause drama just to cause drama is that even though she knows she can’t win, she tries to tank the democratic candidate on her way out the door.

  20. wr says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: But we’ve had Democratic control for the last two years, the gulags weren’t built… and still the MAGAs were sure they were coming. Why would two more years change that?

    3
  21. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My concern is that given her tendency to cause drama just to cause drama is that even though she knows she can’t win, she tries to tank the democratic candidate on her way out the door.

    It’s hard for me to imagine what she could do that would inflict real damage, other than maybe running as a third-party (which I think would be precluded by sore loser laws). I definitely could imagine her pulling a Tulsi, rebranding herself as an ex-Democrat truth-teller on the conservative circuit, but I’m not sure they’ll ever forgive her for putting Ketanji Brown Carmichael on the Court.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @wr: Also, remember the FEMA camps and gun confiscation under Obama? These people never learn from their failed predictions.

    2
  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    Georgia announces that there will be no Saturday voting during the runoff election because of Thanksgiving and Robert E. Lee Day:

    Saturday voting barred in US Senate runoff after Georgia holidays

  24. Scott F. says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Nor in this particular election do I see in the proper data available at this time anything revising my core observation made over the past years that converting the floating centre oriented independents in narrow contests should pay off (and the data rather suggest it did) and not basing election positioning on coastal educated urbanites to the detriment of centre appeal in the other geographies.

    Your “core observation” (or shtick if you will) is that winning the floating center requires ostracizing the coastal educated urbanites who are somehow mysteriously defining the Democratic brand despite the party governing as center-left under the leadership of the Scranton-born poster boy for the center appeal of other geographies. But, lo and behold, the floating center can attracted to a big tent party delivering popular policies and simultaneously be turned off by an opposing party that actually doesn’t have the ability to prevent being defined by their radicals.

    But, as I said “you be you.”

    4
  25. gVOR08 says:

    At Balloon Juice a few days ago John Cole did a post on the importance of Warnock winning the GA runoff. He notes, as does @Michael Cain: that 51 seats means no power sharing agreement, Ds get all the committee chairs. Cole adds that the GOPs will likely run an entertaining and self-harming shit-show to replace Moscow Mitch as their leader.

    And Cole notes, as does @charon: that Warnock gets the seat for six years and the 2024 senate map is bad for Dems.

    And third, and most important, Warnock is a GOOD MAN. He is a decent, good, kind, educated pleasant man with the good of the public at heart. That in and of itself is reason enough to act like that seat is the most important race in the country. There aren’t too many good people in politics. He’s one of them.

    (Is there a single Republican of which the same could be honestly said?)

    5
  26. al Ameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    The quantum physicists were right. A wave is a particle.

    I mean …. you’re the best.

    6
  27. al Ameda says:

    @wr:
    — And here’s my first pick… .if Katie Porter doesn’t win her race, put her on the Ninth Circuit. —
    I agree with that.

    I have to admit I was hoping that Feinstein would step aside/step down and Newsome would appoint Porter to Dianne’s seat. That said, I think Newsome would be under much pressure to appoint Karen Bass.

    1
  28. Kylopod says:

    @al Ameda:

    I have to admit I was hoping that Feinstein would step aside/step down

    I’ve been hearing that she’s going to pass on the president pro tem role, even though she has the most seniority after Pat Leahy retires. It’s expected to go to Patty Murray instead. That could be a sign that she’s preparing to step down from the Senate altogether.

    I personally think the pro tem tradition is nuts.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:..the MASSIVE youth turnout, which is what ACTUALLY won this election.

    I have found two items, one about Michigan State the other covering University of Michigan. I’m sure that there are other stories about the youth turnout in this election and how it boosted the Blue vote. (I don’t claim this post to be a scientific survey just an anecdote and I am the first to say that anecdotes are not evidence. Maybe all the citizens in the photos in these items voted Republican for all I know.)
    In the past I have read comments in these threads that College Students should vote in their home jurisdictions where their parents live since they are just transients in Campustown.
    To register and vote in Jackson County, Illinois where I live a prospective voter must:

    -be a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States
    -be 18 years of age at the time of the next General Election
    -have lived at the address where you register for at least 30 days prior to the next election

    That’s all good enough for me. Upon noting the low turnout for local contests here in the City of Carbondale and Jackson County just 5 days ago I have no problem with any or all of the thousands of eligible Southern Illinois University students casting ballots here.
    Personally I think that it is foolish to discourage them.

  30. charon says:

    About youth turnout, estimates at this link, also a lot of historical data, charts etc.

    https://circle.tufts.edu/2022-election-center

    We estimate that 27% of youth (ages 18-29) cast a ballot in 2022, making this the midterm election with the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades. We also estimate that youth turnout was even higher in some battleground states.

    After hovering around 20% turnout in midterm elections since the 1990s, young people shifted that trend in 2018 and largely maintained that trend in 2022, with more than a quarter of young people casting a ballot. Youth are increasing their electoral participation, leading movements, and making their voices heard on key issues that affect their communities.

    Lots more at the link.

  31. Lounsbury says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Adding massive in all caps is amusing, however while I am sure that this is your party political partisan understanding, the data available so far do not show any such thing.

    Now maths is hard but the data to date do not show any such thing so far – they show a very high turnout for an American off-season election across it would appear all demographic categories. General turnout. Innumerates jumping on big numbers raw numbers and not examing comparative ratios and of course motivated ideological conclusions aside.

    Very clearly broadly Trump and Anti-Trump reaction has across apparently all categories in the electorate boosted engagement and motivation, Republican leaning and Democrat leaning.

    If the end data do show that the proportion of Youth vote is up disproportionately as compared to other categories then the point will be a valid one , but if not, a large turnout that is not over-proporitionate is mistaking the general tide for a wave – so far that data is not there. So far.

    If the clear final data emerges that confirms this, then I shall of course adjust my understanding.

    Current data – which one must note of course is incomplete and thus must be treated with caution for conclusions, rather however suggests my point, that the tipping in key areas came from the Trumpists turning off the floating centre where Democrats picked up.

    Of course they’re not the ideologically correct focus for the partisans here.

    Then there is abortion, as I recall I said back in commment back on the Court decision that the foolish conservative court handed the Democrats a knife to use. And they used it well. It would not be surprising although not yet clear, to see women of the ages to be most concerned by pregnancy directly (people being people) will show disproportionate turnout. Certainly other markers like the ballot initiatives suggest.

  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Lounsbury:
    There has never been a post-Jan 6, post-Dobbs election.
    Americans either knew that 1/6 and taking away the rights of women were wrong, or they didn’t.
    There was no convincing people in the imaginary middle.
    Turnout won this and 18-29 was huge.
    All of your “takes” are out-dated.
    Data indeed.

    1
  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Personally I think that it is foolish to discourage them.

    Amen, brother.

    2
  34. Jen says:

    @CSK:

    I think this is a dangerous assumption.

    A campaign should never, ever assume that a race is a sure thing. The numbers in Georgia are close enough that Republicans could be motivated enough to vote for him out of pure spite.

    Warnock needs to run this race as hard as the last two.

    I have seen too many cases where this type of feeling has led to a loss for Democrats. When I was on the winning side, I will add.

    1
  35. Just nutha says:

    @Jen: And the call by the SoS to not have early voting because of the holiday weekend may turn important.

    2