Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races

Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE delivered big for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' 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 DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-N.D.) conceded relatively early in the evening.

A fourth Democratic senator whom Trump campaigned against, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida 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) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party 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 HellerTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 Progressive strategist says changing demographics will help Dems MORE (R-Nev.), their top target.

They also could win the Arizona seat held by retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least MORE (R), although the race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions 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 ClintonDershowitz to The Atlantic: Do not violate Constitution to safeguard it Why Joe Biden (or any moderate) cannot be nominated GOP Rep. Tom Marino resigns from Congress 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 PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (Calif.), Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Financial system can forge bipartisanship in Congress Ocasio-Cortez, freshmen poised to take on Wall Street MORE (D-Calif.) and “Crying Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump Cardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid 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 CorkerThe Memo: Romney moves stir worries in Trump World Senate GOP names first female members to Judiciary panel Former US special envoy to anti-ISIS coalition joins Stanford University as lecturer MORE (Tenn.), are due to retire at the beginning of next year.