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Republicans pick up Senate seat with Braun win in Indiana

Republican challenger Mike Braun unseated Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana on Tuesday, making Democrats' hopes of turning the Senate blue a taller order.

NBC News and ABC News called the race in Braun's favor with 56 percent of the votes counted.

Heading into Election Day, Republicans controlled the Senate with 51 seats to Democrats' 49. The latter needed to pick up two seats to take control, but with Donnelly's loss, they'll have to count on picking up three seats.

The Democratic Party got its first pickup seats in the House with wins from Donna Shalala and Jennifer Wexton in Florida and Virginia, respectively.

With about 68 percent of the votes counted in Virginia's 10th District, NBC News and CNN called the race in Wexton's favor over incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Shalala defeated Maria Salazar in a race to fill the seat left vacant by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Another tossup district, Kentucky's 6th, went to Republicans. NPR and Bloomberg projected the race for incumbent Rep. Andy Barr over challenger Amy McGrath.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, secured re-election.

Republican Marsha Blackburn won the Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Bob Corker. She becomes the state's first female senator.

The Indiana Senate race was one of about eight Senate races considered to be tossups, including Democrat-held seats in Florida, Missouri, Montana and West Virginia, and Republican-held seats in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee.

Democrats were seeking big wins in the key states of Texas and Florida to fuel a potential "blue wave" in the Senate. Democrat Rep. Beto O'Rourke looks to unseat Republican Ted Cruz in Texas and Sen. Bill Nelson seeks to fend off Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott, where early returns gave the incumbent a lead.

In Montana, Democratic incumbent Jon Tester is in a tight race to keep his seat against Republican challenger Matt Rosendale. With President Donald Trump's help, Rosendale has closed the gap on Tester, who had led the race by 9 points in a poll last month (47-38).

Democrats face better odds in the House, which had 235 Republicans, 193 Democrats and seven vacancies going into Tuesday.

Democrats need to pick up 23 Republican seats to seize the majority.

"The House playing field is exceptionally broad this year, because of Republican retirements, an influx of Democratic cash and other factors," Nate Silver, the creator, and editor of FiveThirtyEight, said in a statement Saturday.

One of the "must-have" House races for both parties was in Florida's 26th District, where Republican incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo was fighting off a strong challenge from Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Recent polling had them neck-and-neck.

The New York Times reported control could hinge on half a dozen of the 30 predicted tossup districts, five of which are in California.

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