Control of Senate Hinges on Handful of Tight Races That Could Take Days — Or Longer — to Resolve

Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Several crucial races that will determine which political party controls the Senate could take days, or even weeks, to play out.
  • A run-off election in December will take place in Georgia, where Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, faces a tight race against Republican Herschel Walker, the former football star.
  • In Arizona, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is leading Republican Blake Masters.
  • Republican challenger Adam Laxalt is leading the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, in Nevada.

Hurry up and wait.

Although the public, the press, and pundits clamored for the results of elections around the United States on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, Senate control may not be determined for days, or even weeks, as three remaining crucial races play out.

Because Democrat John Fetterman flipped the GOP-held Pennsylvania Senate seat, Republicans need to win two of the races for the Democratic-held seats in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada to win the Senate majority.

Democrats need to prevail in two of those three races to hold their majority. NBC News has not projected winners in any of the three races.

Georgia, whose two Senate runoffs in early 2021 gave Democrats their majority in that chamber, again could be the state that determines whether Republicans will be in the minority — and again will take the longest to provide a final result.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, will head to a Dec. 6 runoff election, as neither will crack the 50% of the vote needed to win outright under state rules. With 96% of the votes counted in Georgia, Warnock, who is seeking his first full term, had 49.2% of the vote, followed by Walker, the former football star, with 48.7%. Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver had 2.1% of the vote.

In Arizona, a much smaller percentage of the votes were in, which means it could take several days more to resolve the race between Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Blake Masters. Kelly had 51.4% of the vote, and Masters had 46.4%.

Just 69% of the ballots had been tabulated on Wednesday in Arizona, where many voters submitted ballots early, before Election Day.

Ballots that were submitted at polling places Tuesday will take days to have their signatures verified and be counted.

In Nevada, Republican challenger Adam Laxalt had 49.9% of the vote, compared with the 47.2% of the vote held by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the incumbent Democrat.

But just 80% of the vote in the state was in.

Most of the ballots in the state will be mail-in votes, which have four days to arrive if they are postmarked by Election Day. Because of that, it could take several days, if not more, to get a final result.

On Wednesday morning in Wisconsin, Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson was projected by NBC News as the winner over the Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Democrats currently hold 48 seats in the Senate, where they caucus with two independents. Although Republicans hold 50 seats, they are in the minority because Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, has the power to break tie votes in the chamber.

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