Why the AP called control of the US Senate for the Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats held control of the Senate on Saturday after The Associated Press declared Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto the winner in the Nevada Senate race.

Her victory over Republican Adam Laxalt meant Democrats would hold onto a narrow lead in the chamber, controlling at least 50 seats and with the vice president’s tiebreaking vote, the majority.

Cortez Masto got a 5,000-vote lead over Laxalt after Las Vegas’ Clark County gave an updated vote count late Saturday, and even with some votes from rural counties left to count, her advantage would hold, The Associated Press determined.

Since Election Day, Nevada continued to count mail ballots that primarily benefited the senator. She won updates in Clark County, the state’s biggest, and with a new batch of counted votes on Saturday, she went from nearly 900 votes behind to about 5,000 votes ahead. Laxalt saw his lead of some 19,000 votes after election night dwindle to nearly 900 on Saturday before the latest votes were released.

The AP determined that the incumbent’s advantage would hold, even though rural counties are likely to produce votes that favor Laxalt. The AP determined Cotez Masto’s lead would carry through additional updates in Reno’s Washoe County as well as among provisional and “cured” ballots, or those with signature or date issues.

Just a day before Cortez Masto was declared the winner in Nevada, AP called another race for another Democratic incumbent, Mark Kelly of Arizona.

Those two wins were what Democrats needed to keep the slimmest of margins in the chamber.

The Democratic Party got a boost when John Fetterman defeated former TV personality and GOP candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, flipping the seat from Republican control.

Democratic candidates in New Hampshire and Colorado also held on to win reelection in contests that had been viewed as increasingly competitive before Election Day.

But the two western state victories cemented the win, even as the Georgia contest between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican former football player Herschel Walker is headed for a December runoff.

Republicans held on in Wisconsin, with Sen. Ron Johnson winning a third term.

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AP journalist Mike Catalini can be reached at https://twitter.com/mikecatalini

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