John James and Gary Peters, candidates for Michigan Senate
Rebecca Cook | Reuters; Alexander Drago | Reuters
The tight race between Peters, the first-term incumbent, and his Republican challenger John James, a businessman and veteran, had been the most expensive Senate contest in Michigan history.
As of Oct. 14, the campaigns had raised a combined total of nearly $80 million, according to data gathered by Open Secrets, making it the fifth highest-raising Senate race in the U.S. in the 2020 cycle.
“It’s an honor to serve you for another six years in the U.S. Senate,” Peters said in a statement Wednesday evening.
“To all who believed in us, gave your time and effort in our fight: thank you for putting your trust in me. I’m so grateful and energized to keep working to move our state forward,” he said.
Surveys conducted in the final weeks of the campaign showed Peters holding a slight lead over James, who enjoyed more support from Michigan voters than the Republican incumbent Trump did in contemporaneous polls of the presidential race.
With 98% of the expected vote in, exit polls of the race showed Peters winning a significant advantage over James among female voters — 59% to 39%, respectively. Peters, who is White, also won a large 89% majority of Black voters in the race, compared with just 10% of that demographic who went for James, who is Black.
Democrats were intent on protecting Peters’ seat, even before their hopes of winning a strong majority of the Senate in a “blue wave” election appeared to be receding by Wednesday evening.
When polls closed Tuesday night, John James initially appeared to be ahead in the count. But Peters made gains overnight as more ballots, including absentee ballots, pushed the needle toward the Democratic incumbent.