GOP Wins Big: Mitch McConnell Set to Become House Majority Leader

( [email protected] ) Nov 05, 2014 01:57 PM EST
GOP House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and wife Elaine Chao
House majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., joined by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. (Photo: AP)

For the first time in eight years, Republicans are in charge of the Senate, and with more than 10 seats gained in the House of Representatives, the Republican Party's power in Congress has reached a level not seen since 1946.

Tuesday brought massive changes to the Senate, giving the GOP hold of key decision making positions in Congress, and brings new challenges to President Barrack Obama as the leader of the Democratic Party.

Republicans now have the power to halt the president's nominations and agenda - something he didn't seem concerned about while campaigning over the weekend.

"The American people are with us on all the big issues," he said. "You know it. I know it. The polls show it." But exit polls conducted Tuesday for The Associated Press and television networks showed that approximately 30 percent of voters said the country wasn't going in the right direction.

On Wednesday morning, The New York Times published an article from its editorial board claiming "negativity wins the Senate." The authors slam Republican candidates across the nation for choosing to focus on President Obama's weaknesses as a means of defeating their Democrat opponents.

"Campaigning on pure negativity isn't surprising for a party that has governed that way since Mr. Obama was first sworn in," they wrote. "By creating an environment where every initiative is opposed and nothing gets done, Republicans helped engineer the president's image as weak and ineffectual."

What Republicans did was place responsibility for the country on the one person voted in to lead the nation. As President Obama's approval rating continues to dip the American people sent a message Tuesday night that they're tired of his "hope and change." To claim that the Republicans only won because they painted him as "weak and ineffectual" contradicts the authors' acknowledgment of "the president's own second-term stumbles."

Unfortunately for Democrats, the approach criticized by The New York Times worked in state after state, and for the first time during his presidency, Obama will not have control of either chamber of Congress.

Republicans maintained 11 seats in the Senate on Tuesday, unseating four incumbent Democrats, and won crucial races in West Virginia, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's win moved him into a key position that will be crucial for Republican initiatives during the last two years of Obama's presidency.

Democrats also won in Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Races in Alaska and Virginia remain too close to call, and runoff for Louisiana Senate was projected for Dec. 6.

McConnell's retention of his seat in Kentucky was vital to the GOP. He defeated Democrat candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, and subsequently moved into position to replace Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been key in blocking Republican initiatives and promoting Obama's interests.

"My purpose is to suggest that the Senate can be better than it has been, and that it must be if we're to remain great as a nation," McConnell said on Tuesday. "If America is to face up to the challenges we face in the decades ahead, she'll need the Senate the Founders in their wisdom intended, not the hollow shell of the Senate we have today."

For Democrats, McConnell's win and expected replacement of Reid seemed more like a bad dream. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared before reporters at the Democratic Party's Washington headquarters just before polls began to close on the East Coast. "It's a difficult night," she said. "We can't predict what will happen."

A wave election was what happened, and a GOP surge in power that surpassed political strategists' predictions.

Tuesday night on Fox's "The Kelly File," former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, "The American people are tired of gridlock, and they're also tired of the agenda of President Obama and they're passing judgment on the Obama administration, and they're going to expect something to happen. They're going to expect that the House will pass bills."

Following his win, McConnell expressed his gratitude toward the people of Kentucky. "They've put their trust and confidence in me for a long time, and I want to thank them tonight. I work hard to bring your concerns to Washington and I will not let up." And with his predicted move into Sen. Reid's position, McConnell will not have time to let up.

While this midterm election may only be viewed as a massive win for the GOP, some believe the message sent by voters was essentially a judgment on President Obama's leadership the past six years.

"Our party did better with its operation and it had better candidates, but this election was about what was occurring in the country and the world,'' said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman. "People are concerned about the Middle East, they're worried about what's happening at home. That created this atmosphere for Republicans."