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2020 Senate results: Democrats’ chances to flip Senate look unlikely

As of Thursday morning, votes for Senate races in North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska were still being counted, and a runoff election for a Georgia seat is set for Jan. 5.

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The skyline is seen at dawn in Washington on the morning after Election Day, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. From left are the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Although ballots were still being tallied in key battleground states, it appears Republicans could hold on to their majority in the Senate, but just barely.

Republicans entered Election Day with a with a narrow 53-47 majority and Democrats were hopeful they could win at least four additional seats to take control of the chamber they lost in 2014. Of the Senate’s 100 total seats, 35 were up for grabs this year, but less than half of those were expected to be closely contested.

As of Thursday morning, votes for Senate races in North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska were still being counted, and a runoff election for a Georgia seat is set for Jan. 5.

Democrats have so far only flipped two Republican held seats — in Colorado and Arizona.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis was holding a slim lead over Democrat Cal Cunningham on Wednesday afternoon. With nearly all of the ballots tabulated, the incumbent led 48.7% to 46.9%, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In the Last Frontier, Alaskan Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan had a commanding 31-point lead over Democrat Al Gross, both the Times and Post reported. Around half of the ballots were estimated to have been counted there.

Those two races, along with having flipped a seat in Alabama, would put Republicans at 50 Senators, with both Georgia races still in play.

In Georgia, at least one Senate race is headed to a runoff election in January, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, because none of the candidates captured a majority.

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler — recently appointed to her seat — will face Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock on a Jan. 5 runoff. It’s possible Warnock could flip this seat after New Years, as he bested Loeffler 32.2 to 26.3 points on Election Day.

Media outlets were unprepared early Thursday morning to call the other Georgia race between incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, with ballots still being counted. Most outlets reported that the Republican was maintaining a small lead.

In the battleground state of Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters was projected to narrowly win reelection over Republican contender John James, according to NBC News, ABC News and the AP. A former U.S. Congressman, Peters was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

“Michigan, thank you. It’s an honor to serve you for another six years in the U.S. Senate,” Peters said on Twitter Wednesday night after several media outlets made the prediction. “To all who believed in us, gave your time and effort in our fight: thank you for putting your trust in me. I’m so grateful and energized to keep working to move our state forward.”

GOP incumbents have held on in battleground races in Maine, Iowa, Kansas and Texas while Senate Democrats defended their seat in New Hampshire.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is projected to win reelection, The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon. Holding on to the seat was considered an important victory for Republicans to maintain their majority and a major setback for Democrats.

“While this election may be over, we can’t afford to stop organizing. So let’s get some rest, and then get back to work,” Democratic challenger Sara Gideon wrote on Twitter.

Collins will become the longest-serving female Republican senator and the first Maine senator elected to a fifth term, The New York Times reported.

In Arizona, Mark Kelly — a NASA astronaut and husband to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — is projected to defeat Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to her seat in 2019, the AP, The New York Times and Fox News reported.

“The work starts now. And we desperately need Washington to work for Arizona,” Kelly said in a victory speech overnight, the AP reported. “My top priority is making sure we have a plan to slow the spread of this virus, and then getting Arizona the resources our state needs right now.”

For the first time in nearly 70 years, Arizona will send a pair of Democratic senators — Kelly and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — to Capitol Hill in January, reported the AP.

Republicans did defend their seat in Montana.

Incumbent Sen. Steve Daines held on to his seat against Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, according to the AP.

“Congratulations to Senator Daines on his victory tonight,” the governor’s campaign said in a statement, conceding the race. Bullock went on to thank volunteers, family and Montanans.

The senator — a former U.S. congressman — was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

“Thank you, Montana. The last six years have been the honor of my life — cheers to six more!,” Daines wrote on Twitter.

The fight between Daines and Bullock set spending records in the state, Fox News reported, as parties and political groups spent $150 million dollars battling for the seat.

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith is projected to defend her seat in Minnesota, the Times, Fox News and the Post reported. Smith — who was appointed in 2017 and won a 2018 special election — is on her way to defeating President Donald Trump-endorsed GOP challenger Jason Lewis, according to the AP.

“From the beginning, this campaign has been about what we can do to work together, find common ground, and get results for the good of Minnesota and our country,” Smith said in a statement, the AP reported.