Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races

Trump delivers for McConnell in Senate races
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE delivered big for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 DonnellyTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Mo.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE (D-N.D.) conceded relatively early in the evening.

A fourth Democratic senator whom Trump campaigned against, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA 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) TesterPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives 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 urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R), although the race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses 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 ClintonGeorge Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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 PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (Calif.), Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra MORE (D-Calif.) and “Crying Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens 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.