Why control of the US Senate may not be called on Election Night: report
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell angered some far-right MAGA Republicans, including National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott, when he described control of the U.S. Senate as a toss-up and mentioned the “quality” of GOP candidates as a factor. McConnell still believes that Republicans are likely to “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, but he said, at an event in Kentucky in August, that Democrats may very well keep their Senate majority and perhaps even expand it slightly.
U.S. Senate races in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio and other states are shaping up to be real nail-biters; some polls are showing Democratic nominees slightly ahead, while other polls are showing GOP nominees slightly ahead. For Democrats, expanding their Senate majority would mean holding on to every seat they are defending — including the ones held by Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia and Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona — while flipping some GOP-held seats.
In an article published by Politico on September 19, reporter Zach Montellaro emphasizes that on Election Night 2022, voters may not find out which party will control the Senate in 2023.
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“It took five days after Election Day 2020 to tally enough votes for media organizations to call the presidential race for Joe Biden,” Montellaro explains. “The same thing could happen in some of the country’s most important midterm elections this year. Many of the same factors in the same battleground states are at play in 2022, starting with races that could have very slim margins. Add in the continued popularity of mail voting and state laws in Pennsylvania and elsewhere that can delay processing of those ballots, and the chance of another waiting game is distinct — possibly with control of the Senate up in the air.”
Montellaro warns that if the Senate races are really close in key battleground states and votes are still being counted, some MAGA Republicans may prematurely declare victory. Rachel Orey of the Bipartisan Policy Center described the period after Election Night and before a winner is called as “one of the most precarious time periods for the spread of election myths and disinformation.”
Orey told Politico, “When the public is uncertain, they’re much more amenable to claims of fraud.”
Nonetheless, Montellaro reports that “election officials are cautiously optimistic that any delays in results this year won’t be as large or as widespread as in 2020.”
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“One main reason is that midterms usually have significantly fewer ballots to count than in a presidential election like 2020, which saw a record number of votes,” Montellaro notes. “And some voters who opted to vote via the mail in 2020 — the type of ballots that are often, though not always, last to be reported — are expected to return to voting in person, with the pandemic fading and Trump-aligned Republicans continuing to rail against mail voting.”
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