New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has lost a close race to Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), giving Democrats a second pickup in the Senate, but it’s not enough of a change to challenge the GOP’s majority.
Ayotte and Hassan had been polling neck and neck for months, and as the ballots were counted Tuesday night and into Wednesday, only several hundred votes divided the two candidates, according to returns tabulated by the Associated Press.
Ayotte did not concede until the race until around 5 p.m. Wednesday, shortly before the AP announced the final result. Hassan declared victory earlier Wednesday afternoon.
Ayotte, who served one term, had been labeled one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents during a year when Democrats had hopes to take back Senate leadership from GOP control. But those hopes were dashed Tuesday night as Democrats performed far short of expectations across the board, picking up only two Senate seats and six House seats and losing the presidency.
Hassan’s win gives the Democrats and the Independents who caucus with them 48 seats in the Senate, while the Republicans have 51. A final Senate seat in Louisiana will be decided by a runoff next month; the Republican candidate in the race is heavily favored to win.