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Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races

Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California MORE delivered big for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham backs bill to protect Mueller Grassley defends acting AG against calls for recusal Former staffers push Congress for action on sexual harassment measure 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 DonnellyMellman: The triumph of partisanship The Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress MORE (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMellman: The triumph of partisanship The Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress MORE (D-Mo.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMellman: The triumph of partisanship GOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems MORE (D-N.D.) conceded relatively early in the evening.

A fourth Democratic senator whom Trump campaigned against, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February Nelson seeks to push back recount deadlines in latest lawsuit 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) TesterMellman: The triumph of partisanship VA under pressure to deliver Trump reforms Feehery: With 2020 looming, Republicans must learn lessons from midterms 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 HellerElection Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February Sinema invokes McCain in Senate acceptance speech Sinema defeats McSally in Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Nev.), their top target.

They also could win the Arizona seat held by retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley defends acting AG against calls for recusal Former NY Times book critic: I take back my positive review of Jeff Flake's book Majority say Trump should face primary challenge, poll finds MORE (R), although the race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February Former NY Times book critic: I take back my positive review of Jeff Flake's book 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 ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGraham backs bill to protect Mueller Clyburn says some critics are using race to oppose his leadership bid Congress can unite on global affairs MORE (Calif.), Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersDem running for president says party misaligned with America Trump’s hard lesson for Republicans: Fight back Dems find easy target in Trump commerce chief MORE (D-Calif.) and “Crying Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSunday shows preview: Trump taps acting attorney general to lead Justice Department Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Pelosi: Acting attorney general 'should not be there' 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 CorkerSenate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Juan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal MORE (Tenn.), are due to retire at the beginning of next year.