Since the seat is now held by a Republican, Jim Bunning, Paul's victory does not change the balance of power in the Senate. But it was a blow to Democrats who had hoped Paul, a Tea Party favorite who defeated an establishment Republican in the primary, would lose in the general election.
In his victory speech, Paul said that what makes America exceptional is its embrace of freedom.
"America will remain great if and when we understand -- if and when we understand that government cannot create prosperity," he said. "We have to understand that it comes from ourselves. It does not come from government. We are the creators of that prosperity. Until we understand that, we cannot truly protect and defend our liberties."
Both ABC News and the Louisville Courier-Journal called the race for Paul soon after the polls closed. He defeated state Attorney General Jack Conway.
Paul moved to Kentucky in 1993 after completing his medical training at Duke University. He operated an ophthalmology clinic in Bowling Green.
While the Senate race was his first run for political office, Paul has been active in the anti-tax movement since 1994, when he founded Kentucky Taxpayers United.