Republicans and Democrats battle for control of Congress as Americans cast final votes

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Battle for control of Congress is up for grabs Tuesday as voters decide whether Democrats expand their power, or whether Republicans hold the line and possibly pick up seats in the chambers. 

The balance of the legislative branch will be decided in just a few dozen competitive congressional districts and swing-state Senate races that have been the most costly in history.

Democrats are on offense trying to win GOP-held Senate seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georiga, Iowa, Montana and more. 

Republicans are fighting to hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate. Democrats need a net gain of three seats and Joe Biden as president to win back the majority – or four seats if President Trump is reelected.

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Democrats are expected to cut into the Republicans' 53-seat majority, but it could be a nail-biter in some critical toss-up states to determine whether they win enough races to wrestle back control of the upper chamber for the first time since 2014. 

Gov. Steve Bullock speaks at a Democratic Party "Get Out The Vote" rally on Saturday in Bozeman. (Rachel Leather/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has acknowledged that the GOP majority is on the line, with so many Republicans playing defense this election. Twelve GOP incumbents have competitive races Tuesday, whereas only two Democrats are in jeopardy.

“It's a 50-50 proposition," McConnell said Wednesday of the odds of keeping the Senate red. "We have a lot of exposure. This is a huge Republican class. … There are dogfights all over the country."

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The Cook Political Report projects Democrats will win between two and seven seats. If it's only two, Republicans still are in control. Inside Elections, another nonpartisan election analysis outlet, gives a rosier outlook for Democrats, with a net gain of four to six seats — enough to win the majority. And FiveThirtyEight's election forecasts also found Democrats are favored to win the majority with a 77 in 100 shot.

In the House, Democrats now hold a 233-201 majority (including five vacant seats). The 435th member is outgoing Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, whose seat in West Michigan is up for grabs between Republican Peter Meijer, an Iraq war veteran whose grandfather started Meijer superstores, and Democrat Hillary Scholten, a former Department of Justice (DOJ) and nonprofit lawyer. 

Republicans need a net gain of 17 seats to win back the majority in the House.

The Cook Political Report projects Democrats will have a net gain of between five and 15 seats after the election. Inside Elections projects an even better pickup for Democrats, of 14 to 20 seats. And FiveThirtyEight says Democrats have a 98 in 100 chance of retaining the House majority.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was optimistic Democrats would not only hold the majority but expand their gains from 2018 by going on offense in many congressional seats that President Trump carried in 2016.

“We’re going to increase our numbers tonight and make the future better for our children,” Pelosi said Tuesday along with Rep. Cheri Bustos, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

They stressed that Democrats are prepared to use litigation if necessary to protect against any “skullduggery” from Trump and Republicans on vote counting.

“We are ready legally … to protect our democracy for any skullduggery that the president may try,” Pelosi said.

In the Senate, Democrats were also counting on winning seats in states that Trump carried in 2016.

"Today is the day we elect new, accountable leadership to represent the place we love so much," tweeted Steve Bullock, the Democratic governor in Montana trying to defeat Republican Sen. Steve Daines. "Let’s go — make sure you use your voice today."

In Michigan, Republicans are trying to oust Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, with a win by John James.

Republicans are also confident about winning back the Alabama Senate seat from Democrat Sen. Doug Jones, who won a fluke special election in 2017 in a deep red state. 

GOP Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, the former college football coach backed by President Trump, tweeted out an image telling voters in Alabama to get out and vote: "Gameday," it read. 

Candidates in toss-up districts were campaigning up until the last minute to get their supporters to the polls.

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., said he's seeing lots of enthusiasm and support in the Staten Island/Brooklyn district he hopes to win again. "We're almost across the finish line — let's win," the freshman rep tweeted. 

Meanwhile, Rose's GOP challenger Nicole Malliotakis has the support of New York law enforcement unions backing her at the polls. She tweeted out thanks to them for campaigning for her on Election Day.

Sitting Democrats in difficult reelection bids include Rose, Rep. Colin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; Rep. Anthony Brindisi of New York; Rep. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma; Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Rep. TJ Cox of California.

But Democrats have more places to go on offense, including a flurry of open GOP seats in places like North Carolina, suburban Atlanta, Long Island (outside of New York City) Central Virginia and Texas.

Other Republican incumbents facing tough reelection fights include New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the former Democrat who jumped parties and pledged his support to Trump; the newly elected Rep. Mike Garcia who faces a rematch with state lawmaker Christy Smith in California's 25th District; Rep. Don Bacon in Nebraska, who will have a rematch with 2018 Democratic challenger Kara Eastman; Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri; Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois; Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio and Rep. Chip Roy in Texas.

The candidates Tuesday were working for every last vote.

"The people of Texas are fired up for freedom," tweeted Roy, who faces Democrat Wendy Davis in the 21st District. "That's what is on the ballot today as we determine whether we will have people representing us who #StandUpForAmerica."

Fox News' Kelly Phares contributed to this report. 

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