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Dust settles after Democrat drubbing

November 5, 2014

Republicans have taken the Senate from Barack Obama's Democrats in US midterm elections, claiming a majority of at least 52-48. With a Republican majority in Congress, Obama will find it difficult to run the country.

Image: Reuters

Republicans have won a majority in Senate, with at least 52 of the chamber's 100 seats going to the GOP in November 4 midterm elections. With a majority in the House of Representatives and now in the Senate, the Republican Party will have the opportunity to curb US President Barack Obama's legislative agenda for his last two years in office, effectively making him a lame duck. This is the first Republican majority in the Senate in eight years.

House Speaker John Boehner has responded to the win for his party, saying that Republicans should be "humbled" and that this was not "a time for celebration," but instead a time to "start implementing solutions to the challenges facing our country."

The Democrats' Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has issued congratulations to his vanquishers in an official statement. Right from the outset, Reid appears to be appealing to the GOP to be more cooperative in control than they were when in the minority.

"The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together," Reid said in his statement. "I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class."

Infografik Seats in the 114th United States Congress

Incumbent's party tends to lose

Obama started his presidency in control of both houses of Congress, only to finish it with neither. The Republicans will hope to carry this momentum over to the presidential elections of 2016 - as the Democrats did at the end of the tenure of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush.

In the House of Representatives, controlled by the GOP since 2011, the Republicans appear poised to extend their already sizable majority. The party's high-water mark of 246 House seats (held between 1947 and 1949 under Democrat President Harry Truman), is even an attainable goal.

All 435 House seats were up for grabs in Tuesday's vote, unlike in the Senate, in which only 36 seats were contested.

Gubernatorial races

Thirty-six states held gubernatorial elections in the November 4 polls, as well. In addition to winning the Senate, Republicans in Tuesday's election also won back governorships in the three Democrat strongholds of Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois - Obama's home state.

"All the close races are tipping the GOP way, not only among the governors but in the Senate, we saw the same thing," Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told Reuters news agency.

"The Republicans are definitely having between a good and a great night, depending on how the remaining few states clock in," he added.

Scales tipped in GOP favor

There were tight races in the states of Connecticut, Alaska, Colorado and Kansas. One state that was proved to be a challenge to the GOP's good run was Pennsylvania, where the Republican governor lost to a Democrat. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire was one of the only Democrats in a battleground state to keep her seat.

In Florida, traditionally a key swing state, Republican Governor Rick Scott was able to hold on to his title, winning against Charlie Crist.

The onslaught could become worse yet for Democrats, as Alaska's results could take a few days to come in, Virginia is still a cliffhanger, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has been forced into a runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy on December 6.

With no legislative base in Congress, Obama will struggle to pass any reforms in the final stretch of his second term. His opponents will also be able to thwart his appointments to judicial and official posts. An incumbent president's party tends to do poorly during the president's second term; every president since Ronald Reagan, who served two terms from 1981 to 1989, has left office with the opposition in control of the House of Representatives.

sb/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)