Published November 02, 2010 (Title update: 11/04/2010)
Nov. 2: U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, waves as he arrives at his voting location in West Chester, Ohio.
In a victory of historic proportions, Republicans will win the U.S. House of Representatives with a net gain of about 60 seats, Fox News projects.
The gains would exceed those made during the Republican wave of 1994, when the party picked up 54 House seats. In House races from Florida to Virginia to Indiana to Texas, voters were sending a rebuke to the Democratic Party by electing Republicans over Democratic incumbents.
Seniority didn’t seem to matter. Longtime representatives were falling just as hard as freshmen. The power shift means House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, portrayed as somewhat of a political bogeyman by GOP candidates throughout the campaign, will lose her post and likely be succeeded by Minority Leader John Boehner.
Republicans were also off to a strong lead on the Senate side, picking up four seats from Democrats and holding down a number of others — giving little ground as they look for big gains Tuesday night. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer was able to fend off a stiff challenge from Republican Carly Fiorina in California. But three-term Sen. Russ Feingold is the latest Democrat to go down, losing his race for reelection in Wisconsin to Tea Party-backed businessman Ron Johnson.
“What we’re sensing tonight is a huge case of buyer’s remorse all across America,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told supporters Tuesday night, describing GOP gains as a rejection of the spending and “Washington takeovers” coming out of the federal government.
In North Dakota, Republican John Hoeven also beat Tracy Potter for the seat held by outgoing Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan. In Arkansas, GOP Rep. John Boozman trounced Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, denying her a third term in Congress. Lincoln’s vote for the president’s health care overhaul was considered a turning point for the senator’s popularity. Former Sen. Dan Coats in Indiana scored the first GOP Senate pick-up of the night, beating Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth for the seat left by retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.
Republicans also won open Senate seats in Florida, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio. Those open seats were already held by Republicans, so the GOP wins there do not change the balance of power.
Democrats have scored three key victories for open seats. In West Virginia, Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin beat John Raese despite an aggressive campaign by the Republican to portray Manchin as a buddy to Washington Democrats. In Delaware, Chris Coons beat Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell; in Connecticut, popular Attorney General Dick Blumenthal beat professional wrestling mogul Linda McMahon. All those open seats were previously held by longtime Democratic lawmakers. The Delaware seat used to be held by Vice President Biden, the Connecticut seat held by Chris Dodd and the West Virginia seat held by the late Robert Byrd.
In the dramatic three-way race for an open Senate seat in Florida, Tea Party-backed Republican Marco Rubio beat his two opponents. He was running against Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the GOP to run as an independent, and Democrat Kendrick Meek.
In Kansas, Republican Jerry Moran won the seat held by Sam Brownback, a Republican who won his race for governor against Tom Holland. In Utah, Republican Mike Lee took the seat held by Bob Bennett, who was defeated in the GOP primary. In Ohio, Republican Rob Portman, an ex-congressman and former White House budget director, has beaten Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.
In Kentucky, Tea Party-backed Rand Paul beat state Attorney General Jack Conway after a bitter contest that delved into Paul’s religion and made for some tense debates. Paul, who is leading 56-44 percent in early returns, won despite a last-minute visit by former President Bill Clinton for Conway.
Republican Kelly Ayote will succeed GOP Sen. Judd Gregg in New Hampshire, and Republican Rep. Roy Blunt will succeed GOP Sen. Kit Bond in Missouri.
Republicans needed just 39 pickups to win the House; they still would need 10 pickups to seize a majority in the Senate.So far, Republican candidates have officially won 162 seats in the House, while Democrats have won 112.
Among the victories, Republican Dan Webster defeated outspoken liberal Rep. Alan Grayson in Florida’s 8th District, and Republican Sandra Adams picked up a Democratic seat in Florida’s 24th District. Republican Bill Flores beat moderate Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in Texas’ 17th District. Republican Lou Barletta, a strident foe of illegal immigration, beat longtime incumbent Rep. Paul Kanjorski in Pennsylvania’s 11th District.
In Virginia, Republican Robert Hurt took Virginia’s 5th District, defeating Rep. Tom Perriello who boldly campaigned with the president; Republican Scott Rigell defeated Virginia Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye in District 2. Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil also lost in Maryland’s District 1, while Democratic Rep. Zack Space lost in Ohio’s District 18. Republican Larry Bucshon picked up Ellsworth’s Democratic seat in Indiana, where Democratic Rep. Baron Hill was also defeated by a wide margin.
On the other side, Democrat John Carney picked up the Republican House seat in Delaware formerly held by Rep. Mike Castle, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate. Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank held his seat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stayed optimistic throughout, touting the party’s get-out-the-vote effort at a Democratic event in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night.
“We have taken the country in a new direction. We are not going back to the failed policies of the past,” she said.
• RESULTS MAP: Explore the current party divide, and the polling numbers for the closest races
• TRACK KEY RACES: Track and follow up to 10 races.
• CANDIDATE LIST: All you need to know about the candidates
But with the strength of the Tea Party movement at their backs, GOP candidates were banking on the enthusiasm of their supporters to help propel them to historic pickups in Congress and give them the leverage to put a check on the Obama administration’s policies.
Though Democrats barnstormed into Congress in huge numbers over the past two cycles — helped in no small part by President Obama’s historic presidential run in 2008 — frustration over the economy and far-reaching legislation passed under the current administration fueled a crop of candidates vowing to bring a renewed model of small-government conservatism to Washington.
The most visible and vocal driver of that political breed has been the Tea Party, which aggravated several GOP primary contests by backing non-establishment candidates who, in many cases, won. Election night stands as a test of that movement’s strength.
Paul heralded his victory in Kentucky Tuesday as a sign of the Tea Party’s vigor.
“We’ve come to take our government back,” he declared in his victory speech. “Tonight there’s a Tea Party tidal wave and we’re sending a message to them.”
While the Obama administration rejects the description of Election Day as a referendum on the president’s policies, Republican candidates said Tuesday night’s returns would have everything to do with Obama.
Many of their candidates ran as much against Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress as they did against their own opponents. Across the country, Republican nominees cast their Democratic foes as tools of the Obama administration, while Democrats returned fire by casting Republicans — particularly those backed by the Tea Party — as extreme.
Republican leaders have warned that victories on Tuesday do not necessarily translate to a mandate, and that they’ll have to follow through on their promises to cut spending and rein in government to gain the voters’ trust.
Elsewhere, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy easily won his reelection race, as did South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who faced off against Democrat Alvin Greene, an unemployed unknown who won his party’s primary without campaigning.
Veteran Democratic Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer won their reelection races. On the Republican side, victories were sealed by Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Arizona Sen. John McCain. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Freshman Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also won her race to complete the term vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — she will have to run again in 2012.
Thirty-seven governor’s seats are also on the line Tuesday.
Republicans scored a pickup in Tennessee with a victory by Bill Haslam and again in Iowa with a win by Terry Branstad. Republican Tom Corbett also seized a Democratic seat in the Pennsylvania governor’s race. Republican Gov. Rick Perry won his race for reelection after a tumultuous campaign. And Republican Nikki Haley won the race for governor in South Carolina, weathering allegations of affairs which posed a distraction in the race.
In California, former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown will return to his old job after beating former eBay executive Meg Whitman. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will keep his state’s governor’s seat in Democratic hands, beating Republican Carl Paladino. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper won the Colorado gubernatorial race for the Democrats, beating Republican Dan Maes as well as insurgent third-party candidate Tom Tancredo. Democrat Deval Patrick won another term in Massachusetts, as did Gov. Martin O’Malley in Maryland, where ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich tried to mount a comeback.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is still in a tight race against Republican John Kasich.