Republicans ride voter unrest to control of House

By Calvin Woodward

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 3 2010 7:41 a.m. MDT

Not all the tea party insurgents won. Christine O'Donnell lost badly in Delaware, for a seat that Republican strategists once calculated would be theirs with ease. And in Nevada, Reid dispatched Angle in an especially costly and contentious campaign in a year filled with them.

His win left three races still unresolved — in Colorado, Washington and Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican nomination earlier this fall.

The GOP also wrested 10 governorships from the Democrats, Ohio and Pennsylvania among them, and gave two back, California and Hawaii.

In New York, Andrew Cuomo won the office his father, Mario, held for three terms. And in California, Jerry Brown was successful in his bid for a comeback to the governor's office he occupied for two terms more than a quarter-century ago.

The biggest win by far was the House, a victory made all the more remarkable given the drubbing Republicans absorbed at the hands of Democrats in the past two elections. Their comeback was aided by independents, who backed GOP candidates for the first time since 2004, by a margin of 55 percent to 39 percent. Women backed Democrats 49-48, after favoring them by a dozen points in recent elections.

The takeaways came in bunches — five Democratic-held seats each in Pennsylvania and Ohio and three in Florida and Virginia. Incumbents sent to defeat included three committee chairmen, Ike Skelton in Missouri, James Oberstar in Minnesota and John Spratt in South Carolina, as well as Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, in Congress more than a quarter-century.

Republicans campaigned calling for spending cuts to reduce deficits, extension of expiring tax cuts for all and repeal of Obama's cherished health care bill — all areas ripe for confrontation in the months ahead.

With unemployment at 9.6 percent nationally, interviews with voters revealed an extraordinarily sour electorate, stressed financially and poorly disposed toward the president, the political parties and the federal government.

Sen.-elect Paul, appearing Tuesday night before supporters in Bowling Green, Ky., declared, "We've come to take our government back."

About four in 10 voters said they were worse off financially than two years ago, according to exit polls and pre-election surveys. More than one in three said their votes were an expression of opposition to Obama. More than half expressed negative views about both political parties. Roughly 40 percent of voters considered themselves supporters of the conservative tea party movement. Less than half said they wanted the government to do more to solve problems.

Republicans were certain of at least six Senate pickups, including the seat in Illinois that Obama resigned to become president. Rep. Mark Kirk won there, defeating Alexi Giannoulias.

Democratic Sens. Russell Feingold in Wisconsin and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas were turned out of office. In addition, Republicans scored big in races for Democratic seats without incumbents on the ballot. Former Rep. Pat Toomey won a close race in Pennsylvania, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven won easily there, and former Sen. Dan Coats breezed in a comeback attempt for the Indiana seat he voluntarily gave up a dozen years ago.

Democrats averted deeper losses when Gov. Joe Manchin won in West Virginia — after pointedly distancing himself from Obama — for the unexpired portion of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd's term, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was victorious in Connecticut, dispatching Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. Sen. Barbara Boxer was elected to a fourth term in California, overcoming a challenge from Carly Fiorina.

The GOP gubernatorial gains came after a campaign in which their party organization spent more than $100 million, nearly double what Democrats had.

Among the incumbents who fell were Ted Strickland in Ohio, defeated by former Rep. John Kasich, and Chet Culver in Iowa, loser to former Gov. Terry Branstad.

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