By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON, Nov 9 – Republicans will maintain their six-year control over the U.S. House of Representatives, according to early network projections, as the party also put up an unexpectedly tough fight to protect their majority in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
The ABC and NBC television networks said Republicans, as widely projected in opinion polls, would keep control of the House, which has been in their hands since 2011.
Winners had been declared so far in 11 Senate races, with Democrats making a net gain of only a single seat so far. Several other key races were still seen as too close to call as polls began to close on Election Day.
Party dominance in Congress will be a crucial determinant of the policy-making outlook for the next president, whether it is Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.
Democrats picked up their first Senate seat from Republicans as U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth, as expected, defeated Senator Mark Kirk in Illinois, according to the major TV networks.
Duckworth is a double-amputee Iraq war veteran. With her victory, Democrats need to pick up four more seats from Republicans in order to win a majority in the Senate.
The networks projected that in Indiana, former Senator Evan Bayh failed in his bid to return to the Senate, losing to Republican Representative Todd Young. The two candidates had been vying to replace Republican Dan Coates, who retired. Bayh’s loss was a missed opportunity for Democrats to gain a seat.
In Florida, incumbent Senator Marco Rubio, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year, was declared the winner and re-elected.