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Republicans Take the House, But Democrats Hold On in Senate

Reid hangs on to majority but GOP sweeps to significant gains in both chambers

Republicans seized decisive control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday but Democrats appeared to be beating back their challenge in the Senate. Republicans made significant inroads in the upper chamber, however, even winning President Barack Obama’s former seat in Illinois.

While the House was a rout, Democrats could take solace in a handful of important Senate victories. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was leading her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina. Not only did the Democrats retain control of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., retained his own seat, fighting off a challenge from Republican Sharron Angle.

In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey beat Democrat Joe Sestak, flipping the seat to the GOP. Republicans also picked up Senate seats in Arkansas (John Boozman over Sen. Blanche Lincoln), Illinois (Rep. Mark Kirk over Alexi Giannoulias), Indiana (former Sen. Dan Coats over Rep. Brad Ellsworth), North Dakota (John Hoeven over Tracy Potter) and Wisconsin (Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold). Republicans retained control of Senate seats in Florida (Marco Rubio), Kentucky (Rand Paul), Missouri (Roy Blount) and New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte).

Democrats held Senate seats in Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal), Delaware (Chris Coons), New York (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) and West Virginia (Joe Manchin).

Republicans were in range of a 50-50 split, forcing Vice President Joe Biden, who presides over the Senate as its president, to break tie votes in the Democrats’ favor.

But it was the House that saw the most dramatic turnaround. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared poised to become House speaker when the new Congress is sworn in in January. Republicans needed a net gain of 39 seats to win the House; late Tuesday, they appeared to be headed to victory in 70 or more.

The midterm election was a referendum on Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress. Many of the defeated Democrats represented conservative-leaning districts and bore the brunt of voter anger over a stubbornly weak economy, widespread unemployment, health-care reform, government spending and a ballooning deficit — conditions that fueled the rise of the Tea Party movement, which played major roles in campaigns across the country.

Tuesday’s exit polling of voters showed that Democrats lost significant support among nearly all demographic groups. The polling conducted for the National Election Pool, a consortium of TV networks and The Associated Press, found Republicans gaining a majority of independents, women, college-educated people and suburbanites — all groups that were part of the coalition that swept Obama into the Oval Office just two years ago.

Survey data show a wide majority of the electorate saying that the country was seriously off track. Nearly nine in 10 voters said they were worried about the economy, and more than four in 10 said their family’s own situation had worsened in the past two years.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, said last week she would run if “there’s nobody else to do it.”

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