In the end, it wasn’t even close.
Four years after an anti-Democratic, anti-President Obama backlash swept Republicans into power in the House of Representatives, a second wave has finished the job in the Senate. The Republican Party will control the upper chamber when the next Congress convenes in January. By midnight on Tuesday, the GOP had already gained the six seats needed to win the majority. Most of the close races broke the Republicans’ way.
But Republicans reject the argument that the election was just a repudiation of Mr. Obama and his party: It also handed the GOP an assignment, and it must perform – fast.
“Republicans have been given a mandate to govern with an emphasis on spurring the economy,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Once the new Congress is seated in January, the onus will be on Republicans to deliver.”
They don’t have much time to show results. In a mirror image of 2014, the Republicans in 2016 will be defending more Senate seats than the Democrats – including GOP-held seats in Democratic-leaning and battleground states. And with a hotly contested battle for the presidency, the larger electorate will bring out more typically Democratic voters than showed up for the 2014 midterms. Most urgently, the Republicans will need to work hard to attract minorities, especially Latinos, a fast-growing segment of the voting population.