The overwhelming majority of Kentuckians who voted Tuesday did so because party control of the Senate was important to them. The majority of that group — 55 percent — voted for Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, pacing his victory over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
CNN exit polls
showed that 86 percent of the state's voters had the battle of who controls the Senate in mind when they entered the voting booth. But just 43 percent of that group voted for Grimes, who spent millions of dollars and traveled across the country during her unsuccessful campaign to unseat the now-six-term Republican.
If the GOP wins control of the Senate, McConnell
, 72, could be promoted from Senate minority leader to Senate majority leader.
CNN also found that 38 percent of voters in Kentucky wanted their ballot choices to show they were opposed to President Barack Obama. Almost everyone in that group voted for McConnell.
, 35, campaigned from Kentucky to California and to Martha's Vineyard, with the support of the Democratic Party as she tried to unseat McConnell — whom she referred to as "Sen. Gridlock" and "Sen. Shutdown," referencing the stalemate that has plagued Washington in recent years.
leading up to the election showed the race was close, with McConnell holding a slim lead.
Grimes, meanwhile, was dogged by criticism
for not saying whether she voted for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections after being asked several times during interviews with the media and at a debate.
The McConnell campaign labeled Grimes as unfriendly to the state's coal industry and a staunch supporter of Obama and his policies.
McConnell praised Kentuckians in his victory speech
and said he would work with the White House during his next term.
"So, tonight I pledge you this: whether you are a coal miner in eastern Kentucky who can't find work or a mom in Paducah who doesn't understand why the government just took away her family's health insurance, I've heard your concerns. I've made them my own. You will be heard in Washington," McConnell said.
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