G.O.P. increases strength in Senate too riding a wave of voter discontent
Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a powerful wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Barack Obama two years after his triumphal victory.
(When last results came in Democrats had won 185 seats and Republicans 239 in the election to the Lower House. For the Senate, Democrats won 51 and Republicans 46.)
A Republican resurgence, propelled by deep economic worries and a forceful opposition to the Democratic agenda of health care and government spending, delivered commanding defeats to Democrats from the northeast to the south and across the Midwest. The tide swept aside dozens of Democratic lawmakers regardless of their seniority or their voting records, upending the balance of power for the second half of Mr. Obama's term.
But Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, narrowly prevailed and his party hung onto control by winning hard-fought contests in California, Delaware, Connecticut and West Virginia. Republicans picked up at least six Democratic seats, including the one formerly held by Mr. Obama, and the party will welcome Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky to their ranks, two candidates who were initially shunned by the establishment but beloved by the Tea Party movement.
“The American people's voice was heard at the ballot box,” said Representative John Boehner, who is positioned to become the next Speaker of the House. “We have real work to do and this is not the time for celebration.”
The President, who watched the election returns with a small set of advisers at the White House, called Mr. Boehner shortly after midnight to offer his congratulations and to talk about the way forward as Washington prepares for a divided government.
The most expensive midterm election campaign in the nation's history, fuelled by a raft of contributions from outside interest groups and millions of donations to candidates in both parties, played out across a wide battleground that stretched from Alaska to Maine.
The Republican tide swept into statehouse races, too, with Democrats poised to lose the majority of governorships, particularly those in key presidential swing states, like Ohio, where Gov. Ted Strickland was defeated.
One after another, Democrats like Senator Russ Feingold, Representatives Chet Edwards, Earl Pomeroy and Rick Boucher fell to little-known Republican challengers. “Voters sent a message that change has not happened fast enough,” said Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. — New York Times News Service