Republicans take control of House of Representatives, while Democrats narrowly hold on to Senate majority.
Republican party midterm gains not enough to regain control of the US senate [GALLO/GETTY]
Republicans have won six seats in the US senate narrowing the Democratic majority in the upper house. But they have fallen short of the 10 seats they needed to gain control of the chamber.
Despite losing control of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber in the Congress, Democrats have won key races in West Virginia and California.
Senator Harry Reid, a top democrat, held his seat in Nevada on Tuesday. Reid called his campaign to keep his seat which he has held since 1986 “the toughest fight of my life” as he fended off a hard-fought campaign against Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favourite.
His narrow victory not only spared President Obama from the embarrassment of losing his top senator but also helped the Democrats retain their majority in the Senate.
Addressing his supporters following his victory, Reid said that “Today Nevada chose hope over fear, Nevada chose to move forward not backwards.”
“It’s always been my honour to represent the state, and serve the state and fight for the state. And I am not finished fighting. Nevada is going to recover, Nevada is going to prosper and Nevada is going to lead.”
Only 37 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber were up for grabs in the midterm polls as about a third of the Senate is elected every two years.
Republicans performed impressively at the polls winning Senate seats from Democrats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana.
Republican Mark Kirk won the Illinois seat that had been held by President Barack Obama before his election in 2008, dealing an embarrassing blow to Democrats.
Veteran Democratic Senators, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas lost their re-election bids. But Joe Manchin, West Virginia Governor beat millionaire Republican John Raese to keep a Democrat in the seat which had been held for 50 years by the late Robert C. Byrd.
Republican Pat Toomey won a strong challenge in Pennsylvania, beating Democrat Joe Sestak. The seat was held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, whom Sestak beat in the primary.
Indiana voters chose Republican Dan Coats over Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth. Coats was a senator for a decade before he stepped down in 1998.
In North Dakota, John Hoeven, Republican Governor handily won the Senate seat that retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan had held for 18 years.
Among Republican Senators winning re-election were Mike Crapo of Idaho, David Vitter of Louisiana, Charles Grassley of Iowa and John McCain of Arizona.
Democratic incumbents who have been re-elected include Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, both of New York, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
Senate’s upper hand
As the Republicans gained control of the lower house, which they last held in 2006, Obama will need to capitalise on Senate’s Democrat majority to further his legislative agenda and get his nominees approved.
Although a Republican majority in the House will be able to ram through conservative legislation on majority votes, including measures to shrink government and cut taxes, the Democrats could use their Senate majority to stop these bills, including an anticipated repeal of Obama’s overhaul of U.S. health care.
The election outcome has cast doubt over President Obama’s agenda including immigration reform and climate change policies.
And Tea Party gains like Florida’s Marco Rubio and Kentucky’s Rand Paul are not likely to help the chances of Republicans working with Obama on the economy.
Ethan Siegal, an analyst with The Washington Exchange said that “The newly elected crop of House and Senate Republicans will see their mission as not to compromise and cut deals with President Obama, but rather to destroy his remaining agenda and undo healthcare and financial services reform.”