Tammy Duckworth Win Boosts Democrats As Senate Hangs In Balance; GOP Retains House

Rep. Tammy Duckworth unseated incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois on Tuesday night, giving Democrats an early pickup as they seek to wrest control of the upper chamber from the GOP.

Control of the chamber remained on a knife’s edge as results trickled in late into the night, but Republicans were projected to hold on to seats in Ohio, Florida and Indiana that Democrats once thought they had a chance of winning. But plenty of other targets remained on the board as Senate Republicans struggled to defend their 54-46 majority.

The U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, was projected to remain in GOPhands, handing Republicans at least one check on a would-be Democratic president and Senate as both sides appeared on track to trade key House wins. The results fell well short of hopes earlier this fall of a Democratic “wave election” that would have given the party total control of Capitol Hill.

“Republicans were playing a lot more defense going into this with respect to the Senate,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “Frankly, the Democrats did not recruit the strongest candidates they could find.”

“Everyone knew that the Republicans were going to lose House seats — the only question was only how many,” Mr. O’Connell said.

Read more from David Sherfinski and Tom Howell Jr.

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Analysis & Political Strategy