Ending months of frantic polling, blood, sweat and tears, the 2010 Congressional midterms finally ended before midnight, with Republicans sweeping back into the majority they lost in 2006. The GOP takeover was swift, with most news agencies – including the Associated Press – calling 41 Republican seats before the end of the day, several seats past the magic 39 mark needed for control of the House of Representatives. Overnight, projections showed Republicans gaining more than 60 seats in the House. Reports Alexander Burns in Politico:
Fueled by voter anger about a sputtering economy and deep concerns about President Barack Obama’s first two years in office, Republicans made deep inroads in Democratic-held districts from coast to coast, knocking off House stalwarts including Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, South Carolina Rep. John Spratt and Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher.
Though a few vulnerable Democrats held up early in the evening – Kentucky Rep. Ben Chandler and Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly narrowly survived – the Democrats’ House losses quickly grew to alarming proportions.
Weeping during a victory speech at a GOP rally in Washington, D.C., House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) shed his minority leader status in a raw show of emotion. “It’s clear tonight who the winners really are, and that’s the American people,” said Boehner. “The American people’s voice was heard at the ballot box.” Reports John McArdle in CQ/Roll Call:
Republicans are on their way to outperform pre-Election Day predictions and could see their gains surge into the 60s before the night is done. The Great Lakes region and the South have proved to be especially difficult for Democratic candidates and entrenched veteran Democrats such as Reps. Gene Taylor (Miss.) and John M. Spratt Jr. (S.C.). In some states such as Georgia and Illinois, Republicans won every competitive seat in the state, and Pennsylvania has also proved to be a particularly tough state for Democrats.
In the Senate, Democrats still held on to a majority, but much slimmer than before. By 1:00 am, it was still statistically impossible for Republicans to engineer a takeover. And there were a number of upsets to pour salt on an open electoral wound.
In a very ugly and symbolic political slap to the President, Illinois voters picked Republican Rep. Mark Kirk over Alexi Giannoulias (D), 49% to 46%, putting a GOP Congressman in the former Senate seat of President Barack Obama. In Florida, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) was unable to get past 20% as former House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) trounced the competition to become the star of the night, beating back current Gov. Charlie Crist (I), 50% to 29%. In Wisconsin, incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), co-champion of campaign finance reform, went down 47% to Republican challenger Ron Johnson’s 52%. And, in Pennsylvania, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) finished on top in a bruising and expensive race against Rep. Joe Sestak (D), 51% to 49%. In Arkansas, a somber Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) conceded to challenger John Boozman (R).
There were some bright spots for Democrats, however. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid managed to handily fend off a spirited, insurgent challenge from Republican Sharon Angle, 51% to 44%. And, California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) barely held off former HP-executive Carly Fiorina (R), 48% to 47%. In Connecticut, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) beat back former WWF executive Linda McMahon (R), 52% to 46%. Over in West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin (D), running against his own party, was able to defeat billionaire John Raese (R), 54% to 43%.