Election Day 2010 is (mostly) behind us – looking in the rearview mirror, here is what we now know:
- Republicans will control the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, achieving a net gain of 60+ seats (8 races still uncalled).
- Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate, albeit it by slimmer margins – Republicans gained at least 6 seats (2 remain uncalled), falling short of the 10 needed to take control.
- There will be over a hundred new faces in the 112th Congress: at least 91 House freshmen and at least 16 Senate freshmen.
- Republicans won wide and deep, gaining at least 5 new governorships and control of at least 17 new state legislative chambers across the United States, enhancing the party's position in the congressional redistricting that will occur over the next two years.
- Voters did not embrace Republicans so much as they sent a message about current policies – key issues that impacted outcomes were jobs/the economy, health care, government spending and regulation, etc.
- Victors won because voters of every political hue backed them. In the words of BIPAC Senior Vice President of Political Analysis, Bernadette Budde, "It didn't rain Red, it rained Purple. Pundits and pollsters and network anchors see party, voters see policies, performance, personality."
- There were Democratic survivors who were expected to lose but held off their challengers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Representative Mike Ross (D, AR-4).
- Several members of the conservative/moderate Democratic "Blue Dog Coalition" either retired or were defeated for reelection, and moderate Republicans appear to be nearly extinct in the House of Representatives. As a result, the Democratic Caucus in the House will skew more liberal, and the Republican Conference will tend more conservative in the 112th Congress.
The Next Two Years:
Listening to presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last night, House Republicans understand that voters are not enchanted with the party, but rather, selected them to be a "check" on the Obama Administration by holding down government spending and excessive government regulation/control. Voters also have indicated they want the Administration and Congress to work together to address the most pressing problems for Americans, namely, growing the economy, creating an atmosphere for job creation, and controlling the size and scope of the federal government. It is unclear how much "change" will actually occur over the next two years, or whether gridlock will stymie any actual work from being completed. Couple this with the 2012 presidential/congressional elections (which begin today), and the next two years could be very interesting indeed.