Undercurrent

Nevada’s role in determining control of the U.S. Senate: The scenarios

By: - November 9, 2022 12:18 pm

Adam Laxalt and Catherine Cortez Masto. (Getty Images photos)

As of mid-day Wednesday, with votes still being counted in Nevada and other states, only one U.S. Senate seat in the country was flipped from one party to the other, when Democrat John Fetterman beat Republican Mahmet Oz in Pennsylvania.

That means the Democrats can lose one seat — and only one seat — and still control a Senate tied 50-50, with Vice-president Kamala Harris casting tie votes, as provided in the Constitution.

Partial Nevada results reported as of Wednesday morning (and with more results to be reported later in the day and in the week), showed incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto with 47.2% of the vote so far, slightly trailing Republican challenger Adam Laxalt’s 49.9%.

And as of Wednesday, in the race for Senate, as well as that for governor and several other races, no one knows what the outcome in Nevada will be, or when we will know it for sure.

But after spending much of the campaign as an after-thought among a national media more preoccupied with the races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and other states, now, as the media is fond of saying, “all eyes are on” Nevada, because it easily could be the contest that determines whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.

But it’s not the only race where the outcome is still unknown that could determine control of the Senate. Georgia and Arizona are also still in play.

In fact, if Democratic Senate incumbents in those two states, Raphael Warnock and Mark Kelly, ultimately retain their seats, Laxalt could win Nevada and Democrats would still have a 50-50 tie in the Senate, and hence control of it, thanks to Fetterman flipping Pennsylvania.

It was announced Wednesday that the Georgia race between Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will go to a runoff election in December, neither of them having won 50% of the vote.

But the Democrats can only afford to lose one seat. If either Warnock or Kelly loses, Cortez Masto must win or Republicans will control the Senate.

And similarly, since Democrats can only afford to lose one seat, if both Warnock and Kelly lose, Republicans would win control of the Senate even if Cortez Masto wins in Nevada.

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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