In what is being described as a resounding rejection of President Obama, voters across the nation handed Republicans control over the U.S. Senate with Republican victories in seven states that were held by Democrats, in addition to increasing the Republican advantage in the House of Representatives by 13 seats and picking up four more governorships.
While midterm elections historically prove to be troublesome for the occupant of the White House, Democrats were hoping to hold into their slim lead in the Senate so that Republicans would’t be emboldened to try to erase some of the major gains of the Obama administration, such as Obamacare.
Republicans now have a 52 to 44 advantage in the Senate, with one independent who typically votes with the Democrats. The GOP needed to pick up six seats to take over and they got seven.
In the House, the Republican lead is an impressive 242 to 174, with 13 more seats added last night.
Democrats pleaded with African-Americans in crucial races like Georgia, North Carolina, and Arkansas to come out in force to stop the Republican onslaught. But Republicans still won those seats. It’s not clear whether African-Americans were in a mood to be the party’s savior, as many felt disillusioned and frustrated by what they perceived as an inattention to African-American concerns by national politicians in recent years.
In many ways, the results were a victory for obstruction, as Republicans in Congress primarily acted as a foil to any and all Obama initiatives while complaining about his inability to get things done. The American voters rewarded that tactic, giving the obstructionists control over both Houses of Congress for the first time since George W. Bush was president.
But with Republican control comes a dilemma for the GOP: Americans will expect the party to get things done, to present plans for how to fix vexing problems like the sluggish economy and immigration and to then implement those plans with the help of the White House. Just saying “No” isn’t going to work anymore.
Many observers expect the likely new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to use his perch to try to dismantle Obamacare—an approach that has been profoundly unsuccessful in the House of Representatives, which has tried more than 50 times to pass bills to repeal Obamacare. The exit polling reported by the New York Times showed that the country is basically split on the law—83 percent of those who said the law “went too far” voted Republican, while 80 percent of those who said the law “was about right” voted Democrat and 78 percent of those who said it “didn’t go far enough” also voted Democrat.
The gender gap and race gap that has consistently been revealed in previous elections was once again a big factor last night. Fifty-six percent of Republican voters were male, while just 47 percent were female. On the Democratic side, 52 percent were female and just 42 percent male.
The Republican victories were clearly powered by white men. Sixty percent of whites voted Republican, by far the largest group to pull the Republican lever.
Among African-American voters, 89 percent voted Democratic while 10 percent voted Republican, which was almost the same split as the last midterm elections in 2010 when Republicans took control of the House.
Hispanics were 63 percent Democratic and 35 percent Republicans. There was much speculation that Democrats would be hurt by the president’s inability to push through immigration reform legislation in Congress or sign an executive order. The truth won’t be known until the turnout numbers are available.
Asians were nearly split down the middle, with 50 percent going Democrat and 49 percent Republican. This was a big change from 2012, when 73 percent of Asian-Americans punched the Democratic button for President Obama.
There is clearly a mood of unease and unhappiness wafting throughout the land. Republicans surely can’t rest easy after this Congressional wave because if they fail to make any major moves to quell the mood, they might find themselves the recipient of voter anger in 2016 as they make another bid to take the White House.