Photo: Coventry City Council
As the country awaited the results of the elections on Tuesday night, Americans wondered what the next two years would bring. Would it be more of the same: empty promises and political rhetoric, or the new beginning that so many of the candidates had promised?
In the U.S. House of Representatives, 39 seats were needed by Republicans to take control. Republicans shattered this number, picking up more than 60 seats. As a result, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will now be looking for a new office as John Boehner (Republican), representative from Ohio will replace her.
Republican wins in key states such as Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan helped make this the largest number of seats won by Republicans in the House since the 1930′s. The Democratic monopoly was surprisingly also broken in New England and in New York City.
However, Democrats retained control of the Senate. Republicans were only able to net six Senate seats defeating incumbents in Wisconsin and Arkansas and winning open seats formerly held by Democrats in Indiana, Illinois and North Dakota.
Republicans also lost a major symbolic battle in Nevada as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat) defeated former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (Republican). As expected, Christine O’Donnell (Republican), poster woman for the nascent Tea Party movement, was defeated by New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (Democrat) for Delaware’s open Senate seat.
There were some successes for the Tea Party including wins in South Carolina and Wisconsin, where Republican businessman Ron Johnson defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. In Kentucky, former ophthalmologist Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, defeated his opponent Democrat Jack Conway. If needed, the Washington Post website has the results of both the Senate and House elections broken down state by state.
Why did the elections play out this way you ask? Well exit polls showed that voters were primarily concerned with the state of the economy and expressed distaste for big government.
More than six in ten voters said the economy is the number one issue facing the nation and three times as many people believe the economy is getting worse rather than better. You can bet that this election is certain to reshape President Obama’s remaining two years in office.
During the President’s first two years in office, the Administration has passed a historic stimulus bill, attempted to tackle the housing market meltdown and subprime mortgage crisis and passed health care reform. Supporters and critics alike say that it will be difficult for President Obama to pass any more major domestic legislation during his remaining two years as he is likely to meet a great deal of gridlock.
Republicans will be weary of passing legislation as this will be seen as being too close to the President, which could hurt them politically. This is why it is likely that the American public will see the President focus on policies that are more bipartisan in nature.
The President will also likely pursue policies that focus on building the American economy . According to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
This sentiment certainly foreshadows the difficulty the Obama Administration is going to have shaping policy as well as the impossible level of bipartisanship Obama is likely to face for the next two years.