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Republican win in Indiana makes Democrat path to Senate majority trickier

The race for the House of Representatives and Senate continues.

US president Donald Trump’s Republicans seized victory in Indiana’s high-profile Senate contest, defeating Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly and making the Democrats’ narrow path to a Senate majority ever slimmer.

Mr Trump-backed businessman Mike Braun’s win came as Republicans clung to delicate majorities in the House and Senate, and an anxious nation watched to see whether voters would reward or reject the party in the first nationwide election of Mr Trump’s turbulent presidency.

With control of Congress and statehouses across the nation at stake, many of the nation’s top elections were too close to call.

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Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun saw off his Democrat opponent (Michael Conroy/AP)

Democrats won contested House races in Florida and Virginia, while a Republican beat back an aggressive challenge in Kentucky.

In the leadup to the election, anxious Republicans privately expressed confidence in their narrow Senate majority but feared the House could slip away.

The GOP’s grip on high-profile governorships in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well.

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Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly, joined by his wife Jill, conceded defeat (Michael Conroy/AP)

“Everything we have achieved is at stake,” Mr Trump declared in his final day of campaigning.

Long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting in some precincts, including in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote in a hotly contested election.

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Voters have been casting their ballots across the United States (John Minchillo/AP)

More than 40 million Americans had already voted, either by mail or in person, breaking early voting records across 37 states, according to analysis.

Nearly 40% of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to a national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Mr Trump.

Mr Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at recent rallies.

He bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation.

Democrats needed to pick up two dozen seats to seize the House majority and two seats to control the Senate.

All 435 seats in the US House were up for re-election, although fewer than 90 were considered competitive while Some 35 Senate seats were in play, as were almost 40 governorships and the balance of power in virtually every state legislature.

The political and practical stakes were sky-high.

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The state of play (PA Graphics)

Democrats could derail Mr Trump’s legislative agenda for the next two years should they win control of the House or the Senate.

The party were most optimistic about the House, a sprawling battlefield set largely in America’s suburbs where more educated and affluent voters in both parties have soured on Mr Trump’s turbulent presidency, despite the strength of the national economy.

Democrats faced a far more difficult challenge in the Senate, where they were almost exclusively on defence in rural states where Mr Trump remains popular.

Democratic Senate incumbents were up for re-election, for example, in North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri — states Trump carried by almost 25% on average two years ago.

Three states could elect their first African-American governors, while several others were running LGBT candidates and Muslims. A record number of women were running for Senate, House, governorships and state legislative seats.

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