Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. is the likely new Senate Majority Leader. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Republicans on Tuesday night won seven Senate seats from Democrats, giving the GOP control of the Senate for the first time in eight years.
The GOP won seats currently held by Democrats in West Virginia, Arkansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana and Iowa, giving them the net pick up of six seats they needed to hold 51 Senate seats. Iowa was called by Fox News at around 11:22 p.m.
Moments later, North Carolina was called in favor of Republicans, the seventh seat. That seat was widely expected to be won by Sen. Kay Hagan (D), but was instead taken by Thom Tillis.
And while Republicans were defending 15 seats, they successfully defended every one of them, giving Democrats no chance to eat away at the GOP lead.
Just before midnight, Republicans still had a chance to add to their lead. Alaska was expected to go to Republicans early Wednesday morning, as was Louisiana, although it will take a runoff election before that state is decided.
If both of those states go the GOP’s way, Republicans will have 54 members in the Senate, compared to the 45 members they have now.
The guaranteed GOP control of the Senate will immediately reshape Washington once the new Congress takes over in early 2015. House Republicans have spent the last several years passing legislation that has died in the Democratic-led Senate. GOP leaders in the Senate can give those bills new life in the new Congress, and give themselves new leverage in policy debates with President Barack Obama.
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