[QODLink]
Americas

Democrats retain US senate majority

Congress will remain divided with a Democrat-held senate and Republicans holding majority in House of Representatives.
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2012 18:06

A newly re-elected President Barack Obama will once again deal with a divided Congress with Democrats readily retaining control of the US senate, as Republicans held on to their solid majority in the House of Representatives.

Republicans were dealt a bitter blow on Tuesday by the Democrats, who had more seats to fight for, and were initially seen as vulnerable in the senate.

But two Republican candidates in Missouri and Indiana who had made controversially damaging comments about rape and abortion were both defeated and an incumbent Republican fell in liberal Massachusetts.

Republicans also lost a seat in Maine, where an independent who is expected to caucus with the Democrats won, while picking up a Democratic-held seat in Nebraska.

More than $2bn was spent on the nasty fight for Congress. All 435 House seats were on the ballot, and Republicans retained control there, though Democrats made a few gains.

The result means President Barack Obama will have difficulty passing any ambitious pieces of legislation in his second term.

Up to a dozen or so Senate races out of the 33 on the ballot were seen as competitive, and almost all of those that were called on Tuesday - in Wisconsin, Virginia, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Florida - went the Democrats' way. That left them poised to retain or even increase their 53/47 advantage in the Senate.

Control of the Senate gives Democrats a firewall against Republican attempts to overturn Obama's signature legislative achievement, his health care reform law, before it is fully implemented in 2014.

District boundaries

Democrats began the year in a precarious position, defending 23 Senate seats and losing several retiring veterans in Republican-leaning states, all while voter discontent lingered over the sluggish economy and Obama's health
care law.

But the Democrats fielded some strong candidates, and Republican prospects were undermined by some candidates who proved to be too conservative and by the surprise retirement of  Olympia Snowe in Maine.

Snowe, a moderate, voiced her frustration with the gridlocked Congress when she announced her retirement earlier this year. Independent Angus King, a former governor, won a three-way race to replace her.

King has pledged to be a bridge between the parties and has not said whether he will caucus with the Democrats or Republicans. However, he is expected to side with the Democrats after Republican groups spent hundreds of
thousands of dollars on ads attacking him.

Republicans will be left with only a few Senate seats in the Northeast. In a marquee race in Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown, who managed to win the seat once held by the late Edward M Kennedy, was defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a favorite among liberals for her work as a consumer advocate.

Congress consistently rates low in public opinion surveys, but incumbents still tend to get re-elected.

They benefit from a system that gives them huge financial advantages in their re-election bids, and enjoy support from voters who tend to favour their own lawmakers even if they dislike Congress overall.

Many incumbents in the House were also helped by the once-a-decade redrawing of district boundaries, which has just been completed.

525

Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list