Tough road ahead for Obama after Republicans seize Senate
(Reuters) – Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent to seize control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, dealing a punishing blow to President Barack Obama that will limit his legislative agenda and may force him to make a course correction for his last two years in office.
The Republican rout was wide and deep in what was bound to be seen as a sharp rebuke to Obama, who has lurched from crisis to crisis all year and whose unpopularity made him unwelcome to Democratic candidates in many contested states.
The Republicans also strengthened their grip on the House of Representatives. When the new Congress takes power in January, they will be in charge of both chambers of Congress for the first time since elections in 2006.
The Republican takeover in the Senate will force Obama to scale back his ambitions to either executive actions that do not require legislative approval, or items that might gain bipartisan support, such as trade agreements and tax reform.
It will also test his ability to compromise with newly empowered political opponents who have been resisting his legislative agenda since he was first elected. And it could prompt some White House staff turnover as some exhausted members of his team consider departing in favor of fresh legs.
Obama, first elected in 2008 and again in 2012, called Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress to the White House on Friday to take stock of the new political landscape.
He watched election returns from the White House, and saw little to warm his spirits.
Before the election results, the White House had signaled no major changes for Obama. Officials said Obama would seek common ground with Congress on areas like trade and infrastructure.
“The president is going to continue to look for partners on Capitol Hill, Democrats or Republicans, who are willing to work with him on policies that benefit middle-class families,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
Obama, a one-term senator before he became president, has often been faulted for not developing closer relations with lawmakers.
He will find one familiar face in a powerful new position.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who won a tough re-election battle against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, will replace Democrat Harry Reid as Senate majority leader. Reid has been one of Obama’s top political allies and helped him steer the president’s signature healthcare law through the Senate in 2010.
“Some things don’t change after tonight. I don’t expect the president to wake up tomorrow and view the world any differently than he did when he woke up this morning. He knows I won’t either. But we do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” McConnell said in his victory speech in Louisville.
TOSS-UPS BECOME REPUBLICAN WINS
In Tuesday’s comprehensive rout, Republicans won in places where Democrats were favored, taking a Senate race in North Carolina, pulled out victories where the going was tough, like a Senate battle in Kansas, and swept a number of governors’ races in states where Democrats were favored, including Obama’s home state of Illinois.
Of eight to 10 Senate seats that were considered toss-ups, Republicans won nearly all of them. They needed six seats to win control of the 100-member Senate, and by late evening they had seven.
The winning margin came when Iowa Republican Joni Ernst was declared the winner over Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina.
The Iowa race was particularly indicative of Republican fortunes. Ernst came from behind and surged in recent weeks despite herculean efforts by powerful Democratic figures to save Braley, including a campaign visit by Obama’s wife, Michelle.
Republican Senate candidates also picked up Democratic seats in Montana, Colorado, West Virginia, South Dakota and Arkansas.
‘RESPONSIBILITY … TO LEAD’
Once the euphoria of their victory ebbs, Republicans will be under pressure to show Americans they are capable of governing after drawing scorn a year ago for shutting down the government in a budget fight. That will be a factor in their ambitions to take back the White House in 2016.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand who may run in 2016, told CNN: “The American people, they’re frustrated with what’s happening in Washington, but now the responsibility falls on us to lead.”
While there was talk of conciliation, no major breakthrough in Washington’s chilly climate is expected soon.
Partisan battles could erupt over immigration reform, with Obama poised to issue executive actions by year’s end to defer deportations of some undocumented immigrants, and over energy policy, as Republican press the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline carrying oil from Canada.
Jay Carney, Obama’s former spokesman, said he expects Obama to make an “all-out push” on his priorities regardless of the makeup of Congress.
Whatever the case, Obama will face pressure to make changes at the White House. A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 75 percent of respondents believe the administration needs to “rethink” how it approaches major issues facing the United States (bit.ly/1ph8sLs). Sixty-four percent said Obama should replace some of his senior staff after the election.
The Republican victory had been widely predicted ahead of Tuesday’s voting to elect 36 senators, 36 state governors and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.
Obama and other White House officials blamed the electoral map – noting that many key Senate races took place in conservative states that Obama lost in 2012.
Election Day polling by Reuters/Ipsos found a dour mood among the electorate with less than one-third of voters believing the country is headed in the right direction.
Roughly 40 percent of voters said they approved of the job Obama is doing as president, though they were split over whether they expected the economy to improve or worsen in the coming year.
In a consolation for Democrats, Jeanne Shaheen won re-election over Republican Scott Brown in New Hampshire in what polls had forecast as a tight race.
In Virginia, heavily favored Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Warner found himself in a surprisingly close fight against Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, with much of the vote counted. By late evening, he claimed victory but Gillespie had not yet conceded.
In the most closely watched governors’ races, Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott edged out Democrat Charlie Crist, and Republican Scott Walker survived a challenge from Democrat Mary Burke in Wisconsin.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Susan Heavey, Tim Ryan and Ian Simpson in Washington; Marti Maguire in Raleigh, North Carolina; David Beasley in Atlanta; Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Kentucky; Barbara Liston in Orlando, Bill Cotterell in Tallahassee and Zachary Fagenson in Miami Beach; Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Frances Kerry)
Joni Ernst makes history in Iowa
Published on Nov 5, 2014
Joni Ernst addresses supporters after becoming the first female senator in Iowa state history.
Why Democrats Lost
Published on Nov 4, 2014
“Resurgent Republicans captured Democratic seats in Arkansas and West Virginia and bid for control of the U.S. Senate and a tighter grip on the House Tuesday in elections shaped by deep voter discontent with President Barack Obama.
Thank you POLITICO.
Click On Graphics Below To Enlarge
Mediaite FULL LIST: 2014 Midterm Election Senate Results
The 2014 midterm elections have finally arrived and voting is underway in all 50 states. There are plenty of major gubernatorial and congressional races — not to mention some crucial ballot referendums — all across the country, but all anyone in the political media really seems to care about is one thing: the Senate.
Conventional wisdom seems to be that Republicans will win the six seats needed to take over the Senate from Democrats, giving them control of both house of Congress for PresidentBarack Obama’s final two years in office. But if you ask Vice President Joe Biden, Democrats are going to maintain a two-seat lead in the Senate, so you never know until polls have closed. And even then, potential run-offs in Georgia and Louisiana have some pundits predicting we won’t know which party really controls the Senate until January 2015.
Below are the
11 12 most competitive races of the cycle — the ones that will determine which way the Senate falls. We will be updating the winners throughout the evening as they are called so keep checking back here for the most complete picture of where things stand.
Mark Begich* (Democrat)
Dan Sullivan (Republican)
Mark Fish (Libertarian)
Ted Gianoutsos (No Party Affiliation)
Mark Pryor* (Democrat)
Tom Cotton (Republican)
Nathan LaFrance (Libertarian)
Mark Swaney (Green)
Mark Udall* (Democrat)
Cory Gardner (Republican)
Raul Acosta (Unaffiliated)
Bill Hammons (Unity)
Michelle Nunn (Democrat)
David A. Perdue (Republican)
Amanda Swafford (Libertarian)
Bruce Braley (Democrat)
Joni Ernst (Republican)
Douglas Butzier (Libertarian)
Bob Quast (Other)
Pat Roberts* (Republican)
Greg Orman (Independent)
Randall Batson (Libertarian)
Mitch McConnell* (Republican)
Alison Lundergan Grimes (Democrat)
David Patterson (Libertarian)
Mary Landrieu* (Democrat)
Bill Cassidy (Republican)
Rob Maness (Republican)
Run-off projected, scheduled for December 6th.
Jeanne Shaheen* (Democrat)
Scott Brown (Republican)
Kay Hagan* (Democrat)
Thom Tillis (Republican)
Sean Haugh (Libertarian)
Rick Weiland (Democrat)
Mike Rounds (Republican)
Larry Pressler (Independent)
Gordon Howie (Independent)
Mark Warner* (Democrat)
Ed Gillespie (Republican)
Bold = Projected winner
Current Senate Breakdown:
51 seats needed for a majority; Republicans must pick up 6 seats.
From The Grio:
What last night’s election results mean for Obama’s final 2 years
The 2014 midterm election results are in. And in keeping with the expectations and conventional wisdom, the Republicans have taken control of the U.S. Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats. For the President, the results lay the groundwork for a very interesting final two years in office. With no possibility of common ground with a GOP-controlled Congress, expect Obama to use his veto pen often, and go it alone through the use of executive orders.
With 36 Senate seats in play, mostly in red states, the deck was stacked against the Democrats from the outset. Sen. Mary Landrieu—who faces a runoff election because no candidate broke through the required 50 percent threshold–created controversy when she suggested the obvious, which is that the South has a problem with Obama because of his race.
“I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” Landrieu said. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Meanwhile, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) winning his race against challenger Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, the GOP lawmaker is poised to become majority leader of the upper chamber of Congress. Grimes—who attempted to distance herself from the president in a state where he is unpopular— was faulted for refusing to say whether she voted for Obama.
Compounding the problem for Democrats this election cycle was the issue of lower turnout by the base in midterms, when President Obama was not on the ballot, and the specter of voter suppression efforts such as voter ID, purges and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act making an impact in key races.
Among the more high profile races, North Carolina incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) lost to Republican Thom Tillis. In Georgia, Republican David Purdue beat Democrat Michelle Nunn, and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) held on to his seat, while incumbent Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) lost his reelection bid to Tom Cotton. In the New Hampshire race, incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) defeated challenger Scott Brown, while Cory Gardner, a Republican, bested incumbent Mark Udall in Colorado.
The two African-American U.S. senators, Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) will return to the legislative body. Booker is the first black senator elected in New Jersey. Scott, who had been appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 to finish the term of resigning Senator Jim DeMint, is the first black senator elected to the South since Reconstruction.
Republicans also maintained control of the House of Representatives, with its 435 seats at stake. Looking at races for governors, a number of Republican incumbents, such as Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Rick Snyder (R-Michigan) won reelection, while the unpopular Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett lost as expected to Tom Wolf. In Maryland, Anthony Brown, the African-American lieutenant governor, lost in his gubernatorial bid to Republican Larry Hogan.
With a Republican controlled Senate and Congress, Americans can expect more gridlock. It is all but certain that the GOP—emboldened and full of hubris—will interpret their victory as a mandate to jam through all types of Tea Party-anointed pieces of legislation. In the short term, conservative lawmakers are likely to pursue matters such as corporate tax reform, Keystone XL Pipeline and gutting the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama is expected to use his veto pen frequently, with continued, futile attempts by Republicans to repeal Obamacare. Further, we should expect some intra-party strife within the GOP, as presidential aspirants such as Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul position themselves for the 2016 contest, and Cruz expected to make things difficult for Mitch McConnell with calls to investigate the president.
Further, a Republican takeover of the Senate could result in a constitutional crisis over the president’s future appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. If there is a vacancy on the high court during Obama’s lame duck presidency, it is conceivable that the Senate simply will not hold hearings on a judicial candidate that fails to meet the GOP ultraconservative litmus test. In addition, whether the Senate will stall on a replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder remains to be seen.
In the midst of partisan gridlock and a perpetually broken Senate that refuses to act on important matters, President Obama has the option to use executive orders on issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty for undocumented immigrants. One could argue that the president should have pursued such an effort on immigration before the election—as he had promised—as a means to further energize Latinos and the rest of the Democratic base. Certainly, such an executive move today would anger Obama’s opponents and may be interpreted as overreach. But he is still the president, and the legislature does not pass legislation these days, mostly to make a black president look bad.
And in light of his GOP detractors who have sabotaged the government for political gain, maintaining a legislative logjam only to blame him for the mess, it would seem Obama has little choice.
Thank you The Grio &
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