Republicans take Senate in midterm elections

Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent to seize control of the U.S. Senate, dealing a punishing blow to President Barack Obama that will limit his legislative agenda and may force him to make a course correction for his last two years in office.

Republicans take Senate in midterm elections

World Bulletin/News Desk

Fueled by popular discontent with Democratic President Barack Obama, Republicans took Senate control late Tuesday night.

Republican Mitch McConnell was the projected to win what was supposed to be a tightly contested race in Kentucky against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell is slated to become Senate majority leader following the deluge of Republican victories.

In West Virginia, Republican Shelley Moore Capito is projected to defeat Republican Natalie Tennant. Capito was the first Republican to take a Senate seat in West Virginia in nearly 60 years. And in Arkansas, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is projected to fall to Republican challenger Tom Cotton.

Republicans also picked up seats in Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana.

They needed a net gain of six seats to wrest control of the chamber from Democrats.

A predicted runoff has been forced in Louisiana between Republican Bill Cassidy and Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. It is set for Dec. 6.

Republicans already had control of the House, and are widely expected to maintain it. With control of the Senate now assured, it will further complicate Obama's efforts to drive U.S. policy.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives were up for grabs, while a little more than a third of Senate seats were contested. Each of the U.S.'s 50 states have two Senate seats.

Three dozen state governorships are also up for election.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Obama’s favorability ratings hitting an all-time low. Just 44 percent of respondents said that they viewed the American president favorably.

The downward spiral in Obama’s popularity fueled the Republican charge to increase its hold in Congress, and led some Democrats running for office to distance themselves from the once-popular leader as they fought to gain or maintain their seat in highly competitive elections.

Chris Lowery, a resident of McLean, Virginia, said that Obama has not gotten enough credit for what he has accomplished, especially from his party.

“I feel the president isn’t getting enough credit – particularly other Democratic candidates aren’t recognizing him for what he has accomplished despite huge obstacles," he said. "Even if the Republicans prevail in controlling the Senate this time, I can't see how our nation is going to get anything meaningful done if Congress is basically at a standstill. 

The Republican takeover in the Senate will force Obama to scale back his ambitions to either executive actions that do not require legislative approval, or items that might gain bipartisan support, such as trade agreements and tax reform.

It will also test his ability to compromise with newly empowered political opponents who have been resisting his legislative agenda since he was first elected. And it could prompt some White House staff turnover as some exhausted members of his team consider departing in favor of fresh legs.

Obama, first elected in 2008 and again in 2012, called Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress to the White House on Friday to take stock of the new political landscape.

He watched election returns from the White House, and saw little to warm his spirits.

Before the election results, the White House had signaled no major changes for Obama. Officials said Obama would seek common ground with Congress on areas like trade and infrastructure.

'RESPONSIBILITY ... TO LEAD'

Once the euphoria of their victory ebbs, Republicans will be under pressure to show Americans they are capable of governing after drawing scorn a year ago for shutting down the government in a budget fight. That will be a factor in their ambitions to take back the White House in 2016.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand who may run in 2016, told CNN: "The American people, they're frustrated with what's happening in Washington, but now the responsibility falls on us to lead."

While there was talk of conciliation, no major breakthrough in Washington's chilly climate is expected soon.

Partisan battles could erupt over immigration reform, with Obama poised to issue executive actions by year's end to defer deportations of some undocumented immigrants, and over energy policy, as Republican press the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline carrying oil from Canada.

Jay Carney, Obama's former spokesman, said he expects Obama to make an "all-out push" on his priorities regardless of the makeup of Congress.

Whatever the case, Obama will face pressure to make changes at the White House. A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 75 percent of respondents believe the administration needs to "rethink" how it approaches major issues facing the United States. Sixty-four percent said Obama should replace some of his senior staff after the election.

In the most closely watched governors' races, Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott edged out Democrat Charlie Crist, and Republican Scott Walker survived a challenge from Democrat Mary Burke in Wisconsin.

 

Last Mod: 05 Kasım 2014, 09:53
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