WASHINGTON -- With the final Senate races all but decided, Democrats will expand their majority by at least one seat, pushing the party breakdown to 54-45 – or 55 seats for Democrats if the new independent senator from Maine decides to caucus with that party. The Senate also will have a record number of women.
The result was far from the sweep Republicans had expected in their pursuit of the majority, and the party ended up losing two seats – prompting much political soul searching.
“It’s clear that we’re going to increase our majority,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Wednesday at the Capitol. “The results show a number of things for certain — we’re the party of diversity.”
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As many as five new women senators are set to join the upper chamber – four of them Democrats in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Hawaii, with one new Republican woman senator from Nebraska. Two female senators are retiring. Reid noted that one-third of the Democratic caucus was now women – up from just one when he was first elected to the chamber 25 years ago.
Republicans have been within reach of the majority for the past two election cycles, but watched their hopes slip as the party nominated tea party-aligned candidates in 2010 and 2012 that were rejected by voters as too extreme.