J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
In this Oct. 27, 2014 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., a 30-year incumbent, greets people at a coal tipple operation, B&W Resources in Manchester, Ky. McConnell easily won re-election Tuesday by tying Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to unpopular President Barack Obama. Coal mining was a major part of how McConnell did that, accusing Grimes of supporting Obama’s energy policies that have made it difficult to replace the state’s aging fleet of coal-fired power plants that supply 90 percent of the state’s electricity.

VAN LEAR, Ky. — Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell made huge gains in eastern Kentucky's coal country on Election Day.

The incoming Senate majority leader won the region by 64,000 votes. In 2008, McConnell won eastern Kentucky by about 8,000 votes.

McConnell campaigned heavily on coal issues and used them to connect his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes with President Barack Obama. Eastern Kentucky leaders blamed the results on the declining coal industry coupled with Obama's unpopularity.

While McConnell won 110 of 120 counties in his landslide victory, Republicans were unable to wrest control of the state House of Representatives from Democrats. Republicans already control the state Senate but have not had a majority in the lower chamber since 1920.