Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

GOP Wave of Change Hits House; Republicans Also Gain Governorships

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
Republicans catapulted back into relevance and power Tuesday, taking majority control of the House and winning governorships all over the country. Democrats fell in dozens of House races as voters registered their unhappiness with the recession-wracked economy and the direction of the country.

In a pendulum swing of historic proportions, Republicans picked up at least nine governorships in states now led by Democrats, including many that will be key to the 2012 presidential election, and held on to Florida. They also took Democratic Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Illinois. Republicans needed 39 new House seats to take control; they won at least 60.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, the speaker in waiting, teared up as he said it was time to "roll up our sleeves and go to work." He and other Republicans had framed the election as a referendum on President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their agenda. Boehner said voters repudiated their ideas and warned Obama to heed the results.
"The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight and that message is, 'Change course, " Boehner said. "We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course, and commit to making the changes they are demanding."

Obama called Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday night, saying he would work with Republicans "to find common ground, move the country forward, and get things done for the American people," according to the White House.

Pelosi said in a statement that Democrats had taken "courageous action" to save the country from "the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression" and the election outcome "does not diminish the work we have done for the American people." She added that "we must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward."

Tea party money and energy fueled GOP candidates across the board, but may have cost the party the Senate by powering weak candidates to primary victories in Nevada and Delaware. The Senate was the one glimmer of light for Democrats. In addition to Nevada and Delaware, they held on to West Virginia, Connecticut, California and Colorado, and were likely to keep Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's defeat of tea party favorite Sharron Angle, a former state legislator who had unusual positions and made a number of stumbles in her campaign, was a major symbolic victory. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) captured the mood when he compared Reid to Dracula and Lazarus. "He's unbreakable and unbeatable," Kerry said in a statement.
But while a few House Democrats prevailed in tight contests, and the party picked up GOP seats in Delaware and Louisiana, signs of Republican strength were evident all over. Veteran Democrats Chet Edwards of Texas, John Spratt of South Carolina, Ike Skelton of Missouri and James Oberstar of Minnesota lost. Reps. Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello lost in Virginia. Florida Rep. Alan Grayson and New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter also lost. And that was just a fraction of the Democratic carnage.
Just two years after losing the White House and four years after losing control of Congress, Republicans achieved a dramatic resurgence in Washington and in state capitals. They captured governorships in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Obama's friend Deval Patrick prevailed in his re-election bid for governor of Massachusetts and Democrats held on in Maryland, New Hampshire and Colorado.
Since Obama took office, Republicans have presented a united front against almost all of the laws enacted by Democrats. The tactic did not help their image -- recent polls show only about three in 10 people approve of their performance in Congress. That's worse than ratings for Democrats.
Yet exit polls showed that there was plenty to fuel voter concerns and a Republican revival: persistent joblessness and economic insecurity, high government spending in the face of two wars and a deep recession, a soaring federal deficit, and a controversial new health care law greeted with wariness by some voters and utter hostility by others.
Leaders such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and former House majority leader Dick Armey bolstered their sometimes unconventional favorites with money, manpower, and social networking, putting many of them over the top in their primaries and into contention this week. Angle's loss in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell's in Delaware prompted some soul-searching over lessons learned. "Candidate quality matters--even in a big wave," National Review editor Rich Lowry tweeted.
Voter expert Michael McDonald of the United States Election Project predicted that a record 90 million people would vote, with nearly 29 percent of them casting early ballots in person or by mail. Spending also set records for a midterm election. The nonpartisan Center for Response Politics estimated it would top $4 billion. California Republican Meg Whitman alone spent more than $140 million of her own money on a gubernatorial race and ended up losing to Attorney General -- and former governor -- Jerry Brown.
The 37 races for governor were particularly crucial because governors will have to sign off on new House districts drawn with data from the 2010 Census, they will be key to phasing in (or trying to block) the new health law, and not least, because governors can be so helpful to presidential candidates.
The last factor prompted the Republican Governors Association -- headed by possible 2012 contender Haley Barbour -- to invest $49.5 million in ground operations in 10 swing states, and make no bones about why. The group said it was convinced the 2012 GOP presidential nominee "would have a much better opportunity to carry critical swing states if we have Republican governors in place promulgating good policy and building strong state parties."

The 10 states the RGA deems critical to 2012 are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Obama won all of them in 2008 except Arizona. At the time, eight had Democratic governors. In 2012, all but Colorado will have GOP governors.
Turnout was the decisive factor in the year's many toss-up races, and Republicans determined to cut into Democratic control were counting on carrying the day. Democrats tried to goose their dispirited loyalists with rallies, door-knocking and ads, including one Obama made for the Democratic National Committee. If Republicans win, he tells a rally audience, "they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place. We cannot sit this one out!"
But the exit polls put Obama's job approval rating at 45 percent -- below the magic 50 percent that translates into decent coattails. Nor were other well known Democrats in a position to help other Democrats on the ballot. Pelosi has such low favorable ratings (a record low of 29 percent in a recent Gallup poll) that Republicans found it effective to attack their opponents as "Pelosi Democrats."
Follow Jill Lawrence on Facebook and Twitter

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Comments

780 Comments

Filter by:
Comments are no longer accepted for this topic.
calzadilla30

Don't worry people...the republican proteges could not steal everything in their last go around...they could not get your SS...(Remember how they tried to privatize it..ohh you already forgot) OH let me think...another war might do the trick of bringing the economy back up...come on republicans fix this mess already

November 03 2010 at 10:27 AM
Derrick Family

To Republicans elected: A tough decade is ahead to turn around Washington's abuse. If ever there were a time to restrain governmental control; it is NOW! States MUST be returned to power as originally intended by our Founding Fathers. The federal government has out-grown its ability to manage itself (hence the exorbitant fiscal abuse to taxpayers). Time to enact a permanant law for a balanced federal budget, Social Security reform, true healthcare reform, tax reform (simplification), term limits, election reform, and to streamline Washington legislative process (Congressmen/Senators must themselves participate in their own legislation)!...to include social security! No more "special" benefits for Washington's "PUBLIC SERVANTS." We are ALL Americans (if here legally).

November 03 2010 at 10:19 AM
ksapigbutt

Polls say taxpayers are saying their major complaints or concerns are things like jobs, the economy, healthcare, etc. Why don't they just say corrupt government? That would cover everything because it's corrupt government that has caused it all. Republicans and many Democrats are preaching to keep the tax cuts for the wealthiest of those in our nation. They really do like spending our money, don't they? The wealthiest are the only ones getting richer. The wealthiest are the ones who profited from the corruption on Wall Street and the banks. I think whether or not to continue the tax break for the wealthiest [while we pay their share of taxes for them!] should be put up for the citizens to vote on, not Congress. They've thrown enough of our money away, and obviously, they are hell bent on continuing to throw more away. Politicians say, "Oh. We have to take care of the wealthiest because they are the ones who are going to start new businesses and create new jobs." Please. Have you seen them doing it in your home town? The only contributions the wealthiest make to the American economy are when they purchase something. Otherwise, they invest in the stock markets and their 'overseas' businesses. The businesses are overseas, as everyone should know by now, because they can get slave labor working for well below the American minimum wage rate. That's the same reason we have so many illegal immigrants in the US...so businesses will have slave labor here in the states. And, while taking the companies and our jobs overseas, OUR government subsidizes the business owners with our money; they get tax breaks, and we are being forced to pick up the slack for them by paying for their share of the taxes; and they make bigger profits since they have workers in poorer, overpopulated countries who work for a couple of bucks per hour. They're making out like bandits! And, we sit here like idiots with no jobs because we don't pay attention to who we put into office and what the elected do after they get there. We elect politicians bought and paid for by big businesses. We let politicians remain in office year after year and they 'do nothing' for our country. We've got Congress people who were elected by our relatives before many of us were born! It seems like some voters are waking up, but not nearly enough.

November 03 2010 at 10:19 AM
sedjley2

we are on our way to correcting the many mistakes that have been made. Now if the Republicans make the same mistakes they will be replaced. POWER OF THE PEOPLE!!!!!

November 03 2010 at 10:14 AM
andys64chevy

Mr. Obama, Are you listening now? Get off of your high horse and do what the American people elected you to do. Stop taking expensive vacations aroundthe world at tax payer expense and stay home and create policies to get the economy going. You weren't elected to become King of the United States. Unemployed people are tired of your politics and want "our change" or in 2012 you and your cronies will be on the unemployment line.

November 03 2010 at 10:14 AM
seavet

The stupidity and hysteria of the American voter is amazing. Apparently how we got into this economic mess over the past 8 years of Republican policies was not understood. Now nothing will get done at all in government, and by the way will not create new jobs. This is not what Jefferson had in mind as an informed electorate. It will be amusing to watch Republican cope with the Tea Party nuts.

November 03 2010 at 10:14 AM
raiden23

Republicans - you won. Congratulations - Democrats and Republicans - please do me this favor.. 1) Don't get cocky - there's work to be done..concentrate on that 2) Try to work with each other - Everyone fighting is getting nowhere & delaying a solution. 3) Work the PROBLEMS - We can sit around and say Bush did this or Obama/Clinton did that. Its done, move on, fix the issues at hand. We obviously know what the problems are - now its time to solution. 4) Look at ALL options - The more options you have available to you, the better odds you have at fixing a problem - plain common sense. Listen to each other respectfully and don't let pride or political affiliation get in the way. Promise me those 4 things and I think you'll have a lot more happy Americans in addition to me.

November 03 2010 at 10:12 AM
jlanspery

"There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit" Ronald Reagan

November 03 2010 at 10:11 AM
J. R. Gilbert

"Obama called Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday night, saying he would work with Republicans 'to find common ground, move the country forward, and get things done for the American people,' according to the White House." As much as I am disappointed with Obama, Pelosi and Reid, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The party of No now has to come up with solutions other than voting NO. If you all think that you won something here---you have yet to see the results of your decision.

November 03 2010 at 10:11 AM
linmarco

There are some happy people posting here. There are also some with mixed feelings. They are happy to have won but angry still at the president and the remaining Democrats. Look for them to keep beating the drums until 2012. This victory hasn't completely satisfied them. They just may get their wish.

November 03 2010 at 10:11 AM

FEATURED VIDEO

View All »

Discover inspiring videos on TEDWomen where people are reshaping our future with ideas.

View the Video »

Follow Politics Daily


Politics Home Page : Roll Call