Nevada’s Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, has been re-elected to the U.S. Senate, NBC News projects. That means Democrats have won 50 seats, effectively keeping their edge in the Senate after a close midterm elections cycle and successfully fighting off Republican efforts to take control of the chamber. (Even if Republicans win the Georgia runoff on Dec. 6, giving them 50 Senate seats as well, Democrats have Vice President Kamala Harris to cast any potential tiebreaking votes.)
It’s a surprise but key victory for the party — if pundits and polling in the weeks leading up to Election Day were any indication.
It’s a surprise but key victory for the party — if pundits and polling in the weeks leading up to Election Day were any indication. Republicans appeared potentially poised to win narrowly in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. But Democratic voters came out in force — likely driven in large part by the threat of former President Donald Trump’s anti-democratic MAGA movement, as well as the demise of Roe v. Wade in June.
The Senate’s 100 seats are essentially split evenly between Republicans and Democrats (technically, Democrats have 48 seats, and independents who caucus with Democrats have two). Harris, as president of the Senate, casts tiebreaking votes as needed, giving Democrats the edge to pass legislation on party lines.
But maintaining this advantage doesn’t clear a path for Democrats to pass additional measures from President Joe Biden’s agenda. Two conservative Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — aren’t always reliable partisan votes. So all eyes now turn to that Georgia run-off, where Democrats could increase their majority with a Raphael Warnock win.
Though Democrats’ potential legislative victories will continue to be hard-fought, their ability to stave off some of Trump’s and the MAGA movement’s extremist candidates is a signal that U.S. democracy is hanging on — even if precariously.