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McConnell wins reelection, but control of Senate at stake

Mitch McConnell (R), politician serving as Kentucky’s senior United States Senator and as Senate Majority Leader, Photo Date: December 19, 2019

Polls gave started closing in key states where some of the nation’s most well-known senators are on the ballot.

Posted: Nov 3, 2020 7:35 PM
Updated: Nov 3, 2020 7:38 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans fought to keep control of the Senate on Tuesday in a razor-close contest against a surge of Democrats challenging President Donald Trump's allies across a vast political map.

Polls started closing in key states where some of the nation’s most well-known senators were on the ballot. In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fended off Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot in a costly campaign, but he acknowledged his GOP colleagues face tougher races.

It could be a long wait, as both parties saw paths to victory, and the outcome might not be known on election night.

From New England to the Deep South and the Midwest to the Mountain West, Republicans are defending seats in states once considered long shots for Democrats. The Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout and the nation's uneasy mood all seemed to be on the ballot.

Trump loomed large over the Senate races as did Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. They swooped into key states, including Iowa, Georgia and Michigan, in the final days of the campaigns. Voters ranked the pandemic and the economy as top concerns, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Securing the Senate majority will be vital for the winner of the presidency. Senators confirm administration nominees, including the Cabinet, and can propel or stall the White House agenda. With Republicans now controlling the chamber, 53-47, three or four seats will determine party control, depending on who wins the presidency because the vice president can break a tie.

As polls closed in South Carolina, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham was in the fight of his political life against Democrat Jamie Harrison, whose campaign stunned Washington by drawing more than $100 million in small-scale donations. More than 13,000 votes in one county will be delayed and have to be counted by hand by Friday’s deadline to certify returns.

Polls also closed in Georgia, where two Senate seats were being contested. They could easily push to a Jan. 5 runoff if no candidate reaches the 50% threshold to win.

The Senate will welcome some newcomers as others retire. In Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty won the seat held by Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring.

The campaigns were competing across an expansive map as Democrats put Republicans on defense deep into Trump country.

So far, incumbent senators in less competitive races easily won.

Several Democrats were reelected, including No. 2 leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, Mark Warner in Virginia and Ed Markey, who survived a primary challenge in Massachusetts. Chris Coons kept the Delaware seat once held by Biden, defeating a Republican who previously promoted the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.

Among Republicans, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia and James Inhofe in Oklahoma won.

Stuck in Washington to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett a week before Election Day, senators quickly fanned out — some alongside the president — for last-ditch tours, often socially distanced in the pandemic, to shore up votes.

Tillis joined Trump’s rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Monday as Tillis struggled against Cunningham despite the married challenger’s sexting scandal with a public relations strategist. Cunningham traveled around the state Tuesday, talking to voters in Efland, near Durham.

The state Board of Elections voted Tuesday to keep four North Carolina polling places open longer — 45 minutes at most — because they opened late, and that was expected to delay statewide reporting of results.

Democrats have more than one route to secure the three or four seats needed to capture the majority, and GOP strategists privately acknowledged that the incumbents will almost certainly suffer defeats in some races.

Younger voters and more minorities are pushing some states toward Democrats. In Colorado, the parties have essentially stopped spending money for or against GOP Sen. Cory Gardner because it seems he was heading toward defeat against Democrat John Hickenlooper, a former governor.

Arizona could see two Democratic senators for the first time since last century if former astronaut Mark Kelly maintains his advantage over GOP Sen. Martha McSally for the seat once held by the late Republican John McCain.

Even the open seat in Kansas, which hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, was being contested.

The biggest risks to Democrats were in Alabama and Michigan.

Republicans were expecting to reclaim the seat in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones pulled off a rare 2017 special election win in the Trump stronghold. Now, however, he was in an uphill campaign against Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn football coach.

In the presidential battleground of Michigan, Republicans have made an aggressive push for John James, a Black Republican businessman, against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

“It's my honor to stand before you today, Michigan,” James said at a final rally late Monday on stage with the president. “It's time for a change.”

As voters were still at the polls, Peters stayed on message Tuesday tweeting, “Today, health care is on the ballot."

In Georgia, GOP Sen. David Perdue, the former business executive Trump calls his favorite senator, tried to stace off Democrat Jon Ossoff, another candidate who has benefited from the “green wave” of campaign donations.

Separately, GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler faced Republican Rep. Doug Collins, as well as Democrat Raphael Warnock, in a special election for the seat she was appointed to fill after the retirement of GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The Maine race between GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sara Gideon was another contest that could push past Election Day if no candidate breaks the 50% threshold. Collins has typically rallied support as a centrist with an independent streak, but the tight contest shows the difficulty GOP senators have appealing to Trump’s most ardent backers while also retaining support from more moderate voters.

The political landscape is quickly changing from six years ago, when most of these senators last faced voters. It’s a reminder of how sharply the political climate has shifted in the Trump era.

In Montana, Republican Sen. Steve Daines was trying to hold off Democrat Steve Bullock, the governor, in a state where Trump was popular. Democrats created an opening by working hard to recruit a well-known candidate in Bullock, who also ran in the party's primary for president.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst was fighting for a second term against Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Texas Sen. John Cornyn faced an upstart Democrat, MJ Hegar, in the once solidly Republican state.

And in Alaska, newcomer Al Gross, a doctor, broke state fundraising records in part with viral campaign ads as he took on GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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