Control of the Senate was returned to the Democratic Party for the next two years when the race in Nevada was called in favor of incumbent Sen. Catherin Cortez Masto (D-NV) on Saturday evening.
Cortez Masto’s win over Republican Adam Laxalt means Democrats will control at least 50 seats in the upper chamber when the next Congress is sworn in on January 3.
Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s victory over Republican Adam Laxalt in Nevada means Democrats hold onto a narrow lead in the chamber, controlling at least 50 seats — and with the vice president’s tie-breaking vote, the majority. https://t.co/YssrmbNoO5 pic.twitter.com/Aml2oFVjzP
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 13, 2022
The only race left to be determined now is in Georgia, where Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and GOP hopeful Herschel Walker will participate in a runoff set for December 6. Neither candidate received at least 50% in the general election as required under Georgia law to avoid a one-on-one runoff between the top two vote-getters.
Depending on the outcome in Georgia, Democrats will either have an outright 51-49 majority or will have the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to provide majority power in the event of an even 50-50 split.
The Nevada race was only concluded after days of counting mail-in ballots. RealClearPolitics (RCP) reported midday Sunday that with 97.6% of the vote reported, Cortez Masto held a 48.8% to 48.1% lead over Laxalt.
The incumbent celebrated her win with a tweet posted Saturday night that simply said, “Thank you, Nevada!”
The contest was projected to be closely contested through the entire election cycle, with almost all polls showing results within the margin of error. As Election Day approached, Laxalt pulled ahead in the polls, and RCP’s polling last polling average had him ahead of Cortez Masto by 3.4 percentage points.
Cortez Masto was considered to be likely the most vulnerable Senate Democrat running for reelection this year. The first Latina ever elected to the Senate was saddled with negative publicity for her close alignment with the Biden administration. She has voted with the Biden White House policy position almost 100% of the time.
She also campaigned heavily on abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overrule Roe v. Wade. Nevada state law already protects access to abortion through 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Even though Laxalt repeatedly said on the campaign trail that he supports the power of each state to regulate abortion as its citizens see fit, Cortez Masto claimed that he would support a federal ban on all abortions nationwide if he were elected.
Laxalt focused his campaign on inflation, the economy, crime, and border security. He was notably endorsed in the contest by President Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Nevada is one of the states where harvesting of mail-in and absentee ballots is legal under state law. Cortez Masto also outspent Laxalt in the race by an almost four-to-one clip.