McConnell pushed his leadership post as a political asset for Kentucky. He also has the close tie to President Donald Trump as a top ally on Capitol Hill to his favor for some voters.
McConnell led efforts to defend Trump during his impeachment acquittal in the Senate. He also worked with Trump on a tax overhaul and orchestrated Senate confirmation of more than 200 judicial appointments by the Republican president, including Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Before Tuesday’s results came in, McConnell said in a recent campaign stop he felt confident he would be victorious.
“I’m confident that I’m going to be successful. ... I’ve made my case to the people of Kentucky, I think it’s a convincing case,” McConnell said.
Democrats had banked on McConnell’s high disapproval rating as an edge for McGrath, who raised more than $88 million for her campaign, spending just above $73 million, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. The veteran Republican senator had raised $55.5 million and spent almost $44 million to secure his seat.
Though he is currently the Senate majority leader, that could all change depending on Tuesday night’s results. Across the East Coast and the Deep South, Midwest and West Coast, Republicans are vying for seats in states once considered long shots for Democrats. The Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, its economic fallout and the nation’s uneasy mood all seemed to be on the ballot.
Securing the Senate majority will be vital for the winner of the presidency. Senators confirm administration nominees, including the Cabinet, and can propel or stall the White House agenda. With Republicans now controlling the chamber, 53-47, three or four seats will determine party control, depending on who wins the presidency because the vice president can break a tie.
As polls closed in South Carolina, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham was in the fight of his political life against Democrat Jaime Harrison, whose campaign stunned Washington by drawing more than $100 million in small-scale donations. More than 13,000 votes in one county will be delayed and have to be counted by hand by Friday’s deadline to certify returns.
Polls also closed in Georgia, where two Senate seats were being contested. They could easily push to a Jan. 5 runoff if no candidate reaches the 50% threshold to win.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.