Speed Reads

2014 midterms

Republican Mitch McConnell coasts to re-election in Kentucky

Reports of Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) political demise were indeed premature, as the Senate minority leader handily won re-election Tuesday night.

As soon as polls closed, CNN, NBC, and others projected an easy McConnell victory over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. The victory puts McConnell in line to serve as majority leader should Republicans fulfill expectations and pick up enough seats to reclaim the Senate.

Saddled by one of the lowest approval ratings of any senator in America, McConnell seemed early on to be in serious danger of losing his seat. As late as May, polls regularly showed him locked in a dead heat or trailing Grimes.

Yet after McConnell dispatched a Tea Party-backed primary challenger, Republican voters lined up behind his candidacy, and he began to pull away. McConnell's massive war chest — he spent more than $25 million this cycle — certainly helped him pad his lead.

Democrats, who once poured money into the race, cut off the cash flow in mid-October, only to turn it back on when polling suggested the race might be closer than expected. Still, it wasn't enough, and McConnell will return next year for a sixth term.