Updated, 8:20 p.m. ET:
ACROSS KENTUCKY — In one of the most closely watched 2020 U.S. Senate races, Mitch McConnell, the Republican incumbent from Kentucky, won an extraordinary seventh term on Tuesday night, according to unofficial results reported by The Associated Press.
McConnell, 78, defeated Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine combat pilot who challenged him as a political outsider.
McConnell is the longest-serving Republican leader in Senate history.
As President Donald Trump’s top ally on Capitol Hill, McConnell led efforts to defend the president during his impeachment acquittal in the Senate. He also worked with Trump on a tax overhaul and orchestrated Senate confirmation of more than 200 judicial appointments, including Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
McConnell faced tough opposition in his bid for re-election. McGrath had raised more than $88 million in her bid to unseat McConnell.
With 22 percent of estimated votes reported, McConnell had a comfortable lead with 296,571 votes, or 56.9 percent, according to live results by The New York Times. McGrath was trailing with 206,186 votes, or 39.6 percent. And as of 8:30 p.m. ET, 57 percent of estimated votes had been reported, according to live updates by The New York Times. The Associated Press called the race at 8:05 p.m.
On Monday, McConnell touted his role as Senate majority leader as “invaluable” to the state of Kentucky, the Associated Press reported.
“I’m at the top of my game and ready for another term, to not only deliver for Kentucky but to set the agenda for the nation,” McConnell said during a campaign stop in Versailles, in central Kentucky.
McGrath, on the other hand, argued that the country could “do so much better” by voting the 78-year-old Republican out of office. She also accused McConnell of causing a “dysfunctional mess” in the Senate.
Kentucky is one of several states Democrats hoped to win in order to gain a majority in the Senate. Polls there were scheduled to close at 6 p.m. ET.
After weeks of mail-in and early in-person voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 1.5 million Kentuckians had cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s actual Election Day.
A mid-September Quinnipiac poll had McConnell up by 12 points. A mid-October statewide Kentucky poll showed McGrath closing in, but McConnell still had a 9-point edge.
Looking at the entire Senate, 35 seats are up for re-election. Because the vice president is the presiding officer of the Senate and casts tie-breaking votes, Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if former Vice President Joe Biden wins and running mate Kamala Harris presides over the chamber.
If Trump wins, Democrats need to pick up four additional seats to gain control.