With victories in key U.S. Senate races in Iowa, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky, the Republicans seized control of the upper chamber of Congress for the first time since 2006. Republicans Joni Ernst in Iowa, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, and Tom Cotton in Arkansas each provided crucial victories for the GOP.
This puts Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in place to be the presumptive Majority Leader, taking over the post from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).
Elsewhere, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) narrowly defeated Charlie Crist to win re-election in Florida. Greg Abbott defeated Wendy Davis in the Texas gubernatorial race. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) also won re-election in Wisconsin, while Gov. Tom Corbett, another tea party Republican, become the first Pennsylvania governor in decades to only serve one term in office as he fell to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.
The balance of power and legislative conduct in Washington, however, will remain much as it was before the election, given how the Senate Republicans routinely filibustered or outright blocked Obama administration-supported legislation as well as judicial and other appointees. Consequently, the current state of divisive political gridlock will become more deeply entrenched as the GOP has somehow sold the idea of categorical obstruction as a new kind of legislative achievement in and of itself, refusing to compromise with Democrats and the White House. Knowing this, the congressional approval rating of 13 percent will not likely improve.
The American voters, meanwhile, have chosen to strip the Democratic Party of whatever remained of its congressional leverage due mostly to incoherent gripes sold in a meme culture that’s inaccurately caricaturized the Obama administration as a failure during a time when Democratic leadership has presided over Dow 17,000, 10 million new jobs, deficit reduction of $900 billion, unemployment nearly cut in half, gas prices under $3, affordable health insurance for 10 million Americans, and 63 months of economic expansion — all with zero help from the Republicans.