The Democrats will keep control of the US Senate, it has been confirmed, in an upset that displays the strength of Joe Biden’s party.
After days of counting following the midterm elections on Tuesday, networks projected that Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has carried Nevada with 48.8 per cent of the vote – ahead of her Trump-endorsed Republican rival Adam Laxalt on 48.1 per cent.
As the race was projected, Ms Cortez Masto said: “Thank you, Nevada!”
The victory, which comes after the Democrats saw off another challenge in Arizona, leaves the balance of power in the upper chamber at 50-49, with a run-off election in Georgia set to be held on 6 December for the final seat. The incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is leading that race against the scandal-plagued Republican Herschel Walker by a tiny margin.
Democrats will now keep control of the Senate even if Mr Warnock loses, but a 51-49 victory would mark an improvement on their position prior to the election and give them significant sway in the chamber, as well as easing the path for judicial appointments and confirmations.
With 21 races still up in the air in the US House of Representatives, Republicans remain favoured to take control of the lower chamber, however. So far the party has won 211 seats – seven short of a majority – while the Democrats have 203.
A Republican victory in the House would spell the end of most of Joe Biden’s legislative priorities, though the US President has vowed to work “across the aisle” and “compromise” with his opponents to get as much through as possible in the next two years.
The final trickle of midterms results underlines what has been seen as a surprisingly strong set of results for Mr Biden’s party, which had been projected to lose control of both chambers to a “red wave”. But a young and diverse voter base turned out in huge numbers for the party, with abortion and protecting democracy among major concerns pushing people to the polls.
Mr Biden told reporters he was “not surprised” but “incredibly pleased” after Ms Cortez Masto’s victory, adding: “It is a reflection of the quality of our candidates.”
“We’re focusing now on Georgia. We feel good about where we are,” he said.
“America showed that we believe in our democracy, that the roots of democracy are deep and strong,” the Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, told a news conference on Saturday.
“The American people rejected — soundly rejected — the anti-democratic, authoritarian, nasty and divisive direction the Maga Republicans wanted to take our country.”
Abortion lobby group NARAL Pro-Choice America said: “If this race has made one thing clear, it’s that anti-choice extremists do not represent the values of the people of Nevada, who deserve a leader who will fight for their fundamental freedoms.”
The results are damaging for Donald Trump, who had been on the campaign trail stumping for a slate of hardline Republican candidates who largely failed to impress voters and underperformed in swing states.
Mr Trump, 76, is reportedly planning to declare a third Presidential bid at a rally on Tuesday (15 November) but has come under pressure to delay the announcement amid the electoral bruising.
One of the few big Republican winners is Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who sailed to re-election in what was traditionally a swing state and helped his party topple a number of Democrats.
Mr DeSenatis, an equally controversial figure to Mr Trump who has prioritised “culture war” policies on immigration and LGBT+ issues, is also expected to run for president in 2024.
Mr Biden, 79, has said he will decide by early next year whether he intends to seek a second term in office.