Republicans have gained a majority in the Senate and are due to keep a majority in the House of Representatives as vote counts are finalised in midterm elections in the United States.
Early projections had indicated the Republicans would take over the Senate, the first time in 8 years, but there had been questions with regard to control of the House. Elections were held for House of Representatives members, which are conducted every 2 years, and for 1/3 of the Senate, whose terms are 6 years from the date of the last election.
Previously, the Republicans had the majority in the House, and the Democrats had the majority in the Senate.
The results are likely to cause concern for President Barack Obama, who will be entering the final 2 years of his term, and his overall legislative plans. Voting gridlock and significant political disagreements between lawmakers had been the subject of tension for many voters in the United States going into polling on 4 November, with economic and employment issues at the top of the agenda.
Ready to work together
Considerations of what the presidential race will look like in 2016 were also observed, as Obama cannot run for a third term under laws in the US Constitution.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who leads the Republicans in the Senate and who won re-election in the state to his sixth term in office, said he and the White House have an obligation to work on issues where there is agreement. McConnell is expected to take over as Majority Leader of the Senate in January.
“Every election is a job interview, a very long one,” McConnell said according to a report from National Public Radio. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”
In a message on the social networking site Twitter, Democrat Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who leads the Democrats in the Senate, congratulated McConnell and said he stands ready to work with him and his party colleagues on legislative issues.
I congratulate Sen McConnell, who will become Majority Leader. Voters made clear they want us to work together. I stand ready to do that.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) November 5, 2014
In a statement, Republican Congressman John Boehner of Ohio, who leads the Republicans in the House as House Speaker, said this was no time for celebration despite the victory for his party in the chamber.
— Megan Specia (@meganspecia) November 5, 2014
Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, speaking after being re-elected to his fourth term in office, said the people of America were looking for a Congress that could work for the public.
“People across Illinois and across America want more,” Durbin said according to a report from the Chicago Tribune newspaper. “They want a Congress that produces. They want a Congress that works with the president to solve problems. They want a Congress that is going to provide us hope for our future.”
Some observers say the win was in response to Obama’s agenda.
Can they be effective?
Bill Owens, the former governor of the state of Colorado, in an interview with the BBC World Service, said the gains made in the Senate in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas, as well as House congressional districts, were a denunciation of Obama’s political agenda.
In an editorial in The New York Times, the board wrote that the campaign by the Republicans had been against Obama, which has created a long term image of his legacy.
“Campaigning on pure negativity isn’t surprising for a party that has governed that way since Mr Obama was first sworn in,” the board 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.”
The board also raised concerns about the Party’s plans on health care reform, financial regulation, education and environmental issues, as well as the economy.
The most important promises that winning Republicans made were negative in nature: http://t.co/Ob2iD8aT24
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 5, 2014
Questions will likely be asked leading up to the inauguration of the new Congress in January as to the effectiveness of the legislative body as a whole, and if compromise can be achieved, in a political environment in Washington where the word gridlock has many voters tersely reacting towards American politics.
Internationally, there may be a long term concern, particularly towards the response towards Islamic State militants, where calls were made by Republicans for ground troops, a move Obama opposes.
Come January, answers will be requested by the American public. The question that remains is what those answers will be.
What do you think of the results? Have your say in the comments section below.