Voters painted the House of Representatives red last night but came up short of winning control of the Senate.
The GOP gained at least 52 seats in the House, a victory that invoked memories of the party’s 1994 landslide.
Republicans said they believed their gains in both houses were an indictment of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and excessive spending. An attempt to repeal Obama’s health care overhaul is expected to be one of the first orders of business in a Republican-led House.
“The American people are unhappy with what’s going on in Washington,” said Republican Rand Paul, who won his Senate race in Kentucky against Jack Conway. “But tonight there’s a Tea Party tidal wave, and we’re sending a message to them.”
Victories by Tea Party-backed Republicans ensured that the conservative movement will have a front-row seat in Washington to battle for cuts in government spending and deficits. At the same time, their presence may make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to find middle ground on the main issues of the day and likely will lead to more gridlock.
Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin offered advice to Obama last night.
“He is the one who is going to have start coming more to the center of America, towards some middle ground, instead of staying on that extreme far left that has driven us to where we are today,” Palin said on Fox News.
In protecting their Senate majority, the Democrats scored key victories in Connecticut, California and West Virginia.
“The campaigns run by most Republicans were beneath the dignity of a democracy, and I’m delighted that they were repudiated,” said Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, who won re-election.
Key Senate races
- In West Virginia, Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin topped Republican businessman John Raese for the seat left vacant after the June death of Democrat Robert Byrd.
- In Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons, a county executive, convincingly defeated controversial Tea Partier Christine O’Donnell.
- In Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul, son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, beat Democrat Jack Conway.
- In Wisconsin, Tea Party candidate Ron Johnson defeated three-term incumbent Russ Feingold, a Democrat.
- In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal defeated former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon.
Key House races
- In Michigan, Republican surgeon Dan Benishek beat Democratic incumbent Bart Stupak.
- In Florida, Republican state Sen. Daniel Webster routed Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, 56 percent to 38 percent.
- In Virginia, Republican Robert Hurt, a state senator, ousted Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello.
- In Pennsylvania, Republican challenger Mike Kelly defeated Democratic incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper.
- In Colorado, Cory Gardner, a state representative, topped Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey.