Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races

Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE delivered big for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Overnight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts MORE (R-Ky.) on Election Day, helping Republicans defeat at least three Democratic incumbents in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota.

Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-Mo.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.) conceded relatively early in the evening.

A fourth Democratic senator whom Trump campaigned against, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 MORE (D-Fla.), was on the cusp of losing early Wednesday morning as he trailed by 50,000 votes, or 0.6 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

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A fifth Democrat, Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment MORE (D-Mont.), whom Trump made a top target because of his role in a clash over the Veteran Affairs Department earlier this year, was behind his opponent, Matt Rosendale, early Wednesday by nearly 2 points — or 7,000 votes — with 80 percent of precincts reporting.

McConnell spoke to Trump earlier Tuesday evening to thank him for all the work he did to buck up Senate GOP races, crisscrossing the nation in the final weeks before Election Day to rally the GOP base.

Senate Democrats managed to pare the GOP gains later in the evening by defeating Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.), their top target.

They also could win the Arizona seat held by retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R), although the race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona Democrats push Sinema censure vote off until January Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (R) was too close to call as of 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Trump hailed Election Day as a “tremendous success” on Twitter, even though Democrats picked up at least 26 House seats and control of the lower chamber.

Senate Republicans are likely to pick up at least two seats and as many as four, depending on how the undecided races in Arizona, Florida and Montana shake out.

As a result, McConnell could lead a Senate Republican majority of between 53 and 55 seats.

There is an outside chance that all the undecided races break for Democrats, which would limit the Senate GOP majority in 2019 to 52 seats.

The expanded GOP majority will make it more difficult for Democrats to recapture the Senate in 2020, when the electoral map will be more favorable for them.

The president on Tuesday evening tweeted a quote from conservative commentator and actor Ben Stein citing a statistic that the party of a sitting president has won seats in the Senate only five times in the past 105 years during a midterm election.

Trump claimed victory after focusing on Senate races in the final month of the campaign and largely ignoring House contests, many of which were fought on more favorable Democratic territory carried by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUkrainian official denies Trump pressured president The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam Missing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani MORE in 2016.

He traveled extensively in the past week, visiting Florida to campaign for Rick Scott (R) on Halloween, Missouri to rally voters for Josh Hawley (R) on Nov. 1, Indiana to help Mike Braun (R) on Nov. 2, back to Florida on Nov. 3, then to Bozeman, Mont., to boost Rosendale that same day, to Tennessee on Nov. 4 and Indiana on Nov. 5.

At each of his rallies, Trump urged voters to elect a Republican to the Senate, arguing he needed more GOP votes in the upper chamber to pass his agenda and warning that Democrats would hurt the economy if they won back power.

He told supporters who waited for hours Saturday to hear him speak outside of Bozeman that Tester would be in “lockstep” with House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTimeline: The Trump whistleblower complaint DC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Ukraine could badly damage both Donald Trump and the Democrats MORE (Calif.), Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.) and “Crying Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE,” referring to the Senate Democratic leader from New York.

“Remember, Tester voted against your tax cuts,” he said.

On Monday in Indiana, he attacked Donnelly as a faux conservative who would largely stick with Democratic leaders on key votes.

“All of the sudden, he’s talking about what we’ve been talking about,” he told a rally in Fort Wayne. “Here’s the problem. There’s one problem. We’ll have the election tomorrow and on Wednesday he’ll be totally against us. He’ll never vote for us.”

Every Senate Republican candidate Trump visited in the past week either won or was poised to win at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Trump visited Indiana and Missouri a total of five times each and Montana four times in 2018. He visited North Dakota twice and Florida more than a dozen times this year.

As happened in 2016, public polls underestimated Trump’s influence in battleground states.

Polls showed Nelson, Tester and Donnelly clinging to narrow leads and McCaskill tied with Hawley in the days before the election.

Donnelly and McCaskill ended up losing by 10 and 6 percentage points, respectively, and Nelson and Tester stayed stuck behind in the undecided races as Wednesday morning wore on.

A recount in Florida will be triggered automatically if the margin of victory in the Senate race is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Senate Republican leaders knew months ago that Trump would be crucial to revving up the conservative base in a year when Democrats appeared to have an early advantage in voter enthusiasm.

GOP leaders declined to pick a fight with Trump over trade policy by moving legislation curbing his ability to implement tariffs because they feared it would be counterproductive politically in an election year.

Trump’s success in rallying Republican voters will likely strengthen his hand in the Senate GOP conference in the post-election, lame-duck session and the new 116th Congress, which convenes in January.

Two of the president’s most outspoken Senate Republican critics, Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Tenn.), are due to retire at the beginning of next year.