James Forsyth

Republicans take control of the House, Democrats cling on in Senate

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The Democrats have lost control of the House of Representatives. The Republican party looks to have picked up more than 60 seats in the lower house, slightly more than they were expected to, and they will have a comfortable majority there. The Democrats have lost six seats in the Senate but held onto their majority in the upper chamber.

These results are a blow to President Obama. The loss of the Democratic majority in the House will force him to compromise to get things done.  The results do seem to be a rejection of his agenda, 56 percent of voters in the exit poll felt that government is now doing too much. A Republican controlled House will also be able to use its subpoena power to make life difficult for the White House.

The president will have to quickly decide whether he wants to try and move to the centre as Clinton did successfully after losing Congress in 1994 or if he wants to define himself against the new majority House Republicans. We’ll get an early indication of Obama’s thinking in the White House press conference he is holding later today.

The Democrats have hung onto their Senate majority because only 37 of its 100 seats were up for election, it is elected in thirds every two years. The Republicans have so far made six gains including winning Obama’s old seat in Illinois.

The Tea Party has had some triumphs with Marc Rubio romping home in Florida and Rand Paul winning in Kentucky. But in Nevada and Delaware, Tea Party backed candidates lost races that Republicans should have won in this environment. While in Alaska it looks like the incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski might win as a write-in having lost the Republican primary to the Tea party and Palin-backed Joe Miller. It would be a major embarrassment to Palin to see the candidates she endorsed fail in her own backyard.

In the governors races, the Republican are up eight. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will now all have Republican governors. The veteran Democrat Jerry Brown, though, has narrowly defeated Meg Whitman in California.