By The Hill Staff - 11/07/12 04:16 AM EST
Democrats will retain control of the Senate next year, having picked up seats in Massachusetts, Indiana and Maine along with holding on to several of their endangered incumbents who were in tough races.
It's a switch from the beginning of the cycle, when the party was seen as in trouble as they were defending more seats than Republicans.
But the recruitment of strong candidates and several gaffes on behalf of GOP challengers helped Democrats keep the upper chamber.
National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John CornynJohn CornynClinton email headache is about to get worse Overnight Tech: House GOP launches probe into phone, internet subsidies Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill MORE (R-Texas) said the results meant the GOP needed to do some soul-searching.
"It’s clear that with our losses in the Presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party. While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead," he said in a statement.
He also warned Democrats that "they should not over-read their mandate as reflected by the almost evenly-divided popular vote."
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSanders tests Wasserman Schultz Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate MORE (D-Nev.), who will keep his spot in the 113th Congress, extended an olive branch to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo MORE (R-Ky.).
“I look at the challenges that we have ahead of us and I reach out to my Republican colleagues in the Senate and the House. Let’s come together. We know what the issues are, let’s solve them,” he told a boisterous audience packing the ballroom of the Liaison hotel, where Democratic congressional leaders were spending election night.
They had much to celebrate.
The party had a major victory with Democrat Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSanders: Clinton with a moderate VP would be a 'disaster' Verizon, striking unions reach agreement in principle What Bernie needs to do right now MORE's victory in Massachusetts over Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Both parties were heavily invested in the race: Democrats wanted to win back the seat once held by the late-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Republicans desperately wanted to hold it.
Democrats also picked up seats in Indiana and in Maine.
Rep. Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellySenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment MORE (D-Ind.) beat Republican Richard Mourdock, who defeated longtime Sen. Dick Lugar in the GOP primary. Mourdock hurt himself with controversial comments about his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest.
In Maine, Independent candidate Angus KingAngus KingSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Lawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill House, Senate at odds on new authority for cyber war unit MORE won and is expected to caucus with the Democrats, which would turn retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) seat blue.
Meanwhile, Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillParty chairs see reversal of fortune Why Wasserman Schultz must go Sanders aide: Easier for Dems to unify if Wasserman Schultz steps down MORE (D-Mo.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSanders: Clinton with a moderate VP would be a 'disaster' The Hill's 12:30 Report Clinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick MORE (D-Ohio), both top GOP targets, won reelection. McCaskill, who was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats earlier this year, was boosted by GOP rival Todd Akin's controversial comments on rape.
And Democrat Tim KaineTim KaineSanders: Clinton shouldn't pick VP from Wall Street Kaine: Dem discord could start to hurt Clinton soon Sanders: Clinton with a moderate VP would be a 'disaster' MORE won in Virginia, defeating former GOP Sen. George Allen, to keep retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) seat. Rep. Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichOvernight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Bison declared national mammal The myth of favorite son and daughter vice presidents MORE (D-N.M.) won his contest, keeping retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman's (D-N.M.) seat in Democratic hands.
Polls have closed in Montana and North Dakota — where two competitive contests have not been called. But even if the GOP picks up the two states, it would not be enough to hand them control of the upper chamber. Republicans needed a net gain of four seats — since President Obama won reelection — to take control of the upper chamber.
Republican Rep. Rick Berg said late Tuesday night he will not concede the North Dakota Senate race to Democrat Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampThe Hill's 12:30 Report House Dems urge Senate panel to vote on Ex-Im Bank nominee Senate Dems frustrated over lack of action on Ex-Im Bank nominee MORE until the state completes its recount process, which would be next Tuesday. The race between the two is tight with Heitkamp up by nearly 3,000 votes with about 98 percent of the state reporting early Wednesday morning.
Democrats also held onto Connecticut's Senate seat and Wisconsin's Senate seat. Rep. Chris MurphyChris MurphyDem senators call for sanctions on Congo Overnight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill MORE (D-Conn.) defeated Republican Linda McMahon, who also lost a Senate bid in 2010. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, is retiring. In Wisconsin, Rep. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinSenate panel passes 4.5B defense bill Dem introduces bill to block new government hacking powers The Trail 2016: The campaign that never sleeps MORE (D) defeated Republican Tommy Thompson, the popular former governor. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is retiring.
And Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonTen senators ask FCC to delay box plan Senators to House: FAA reauthorization would enhance airport security Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz MORE (D-Fla.) won reelection, defeating Republican Rep. Connie Mack.
The Connecticut seat looked more promising for the GOP as the election approached. McMahon ran a strong campaign — much better than her 2010 effort — and was gaining on Murphy in the polls. In Florida, Republicans had hoped for a stronger candidacy from Mack.
Republicans made a strong push for Thompson in Wisconsin, with GOP running mate Paul RyanPaul RyanSessions: Ryan 'needs to' endorse Trump soon Dole: Gingrich should be Trump's running mate In House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable MORE and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus campaigning for him. But Thompson faced a tough GOP primary from which he emerged broke and exhausted.
Sen. Bob CaseyBob CaseyTen senators ask FCC to delay box plan Lawmakers blast poultry, meat industries over worker injuries GOP chairman sees funding deal soon on medical cures bill MORE Jr. (D-Pa.), who faced a tough, last-minute surge from wealthy businessman Tom Smith, also won reelection. Rep. Mazie HironoMazie HironoDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Carter pledges probe of sex assault testimony GOP blocks slate of Obama judicial nominees MORE (D-Hawaii) defeated Republican Linda Lingle, holding on to retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka's (D-Hawaii) seat for Democrats.
One bright spot for the GOP was in Nebraska, where Republican Deb FischerDeb FischerSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Senate Republicans ask Trump to soften his tone Skittish GOP to Trump: Drop the insults MORE beat former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), taking retiring Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) seat for her party. Also Rep. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeDem senators call for sanctions on Congo McCain urges sports leagues to return 'paid patriotism' money Overnight Tech: House GOP launches probe into phone, internet subsidies MORE (R-Ariz.) defeated Democrat Richard Carmona in a tough race to keep retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat. And Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerLake Mead hits record low water level Tough choice for vulnerable GOP senators: Embrace or reject Trump Press: Forget about GOP unity in 2016 MORE (R-Neb.) won against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).
Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Dem senator: Sanders ‘doesn’t have a lot of answers’ Groups urge Senate to oppose defense language on for-profit colleges MORE (D-W.V.), Ben CardinBen CardinSenate GOP ties Iran sanctions fight to defense bill Lawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill Baltimore police officer cleared in Freddie Gray case MORE (D-Md.), Tom CarperTom CarperFinancial industry spars with retailers over data breach bill Week ahead: Cyber Command in the spotlight Lawsuit exposes M cybertheft through banking software MORE (D-Del.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise Honor Frank Lautenberg by protecting our kids MORE (D-R.I.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World Dem senators: Slash executive pay at pension plans seeking benefit cuts MORE (Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz Defense bill renews fight over military sexual assault MORE (N.Y.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinClinton emails dominate Sunday shows Feinstein: 'Enough is enough' on Clinton's email controversy Feinstein: Sanders campaign 'all but over' MORE (Calif.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDem senators back Interior coal leasing review An affordable housing solution both parties can get behind Senators float bipartisan wildfire bill MORE (Wash.), Bob MenendezRobert MenendezDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump MORE (N.J.), and Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowSenators hope for deal soon on mental health bill The Hill's 12:30 Report Dems: GOP playing from 'Trump textbook' MORE (Mich.) all won reelection, as did Republican Sens. Bob CorkerBob CorkerRubio: 'Maybe' would run for Senate seat if 'good friend' wasn't McConnell-allied group: We'll back Rubio if he runs for reelection The Trail 2016: Interleague play MORE (Tenn.), Roger WickerRoger WickerSenate votes to block USDA catfish inspections GOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' Senate Republicans ask Trump to soften his tone MORE (Miss.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTen senators ask FCC to delay box plan An affordable housing solution both parties can get behind Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate MORE (Utah) and John BarrassoJohn BarrassoRepublican senator expects Trump will 'embrace' GOP platform Sunday shows preview: Bernie soldiers on Overnight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes MORE (Wyo.).
Republican candidate Ted CruzTed CruzMeet the billionaire donor behind Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Party chairs see reversal of fortune McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ MORE, a Tea Party favorite, won a Texas Senate seat.
— This story was originally posted at 8:12 p.m. and last updated at 3:24 a.m.