Obama’s Democrats lose House, hold on to Senate (Third Lead)

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WASHINGTON - Days ahead of his visit to India, America’s first black president Barack Obama saw his Democratic party suffer a near rout in the face of voter dissatisfaction over a recession-hit economy.

Riding the anti-establishment mood, the opposition Republicans won majority control of the US House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, while Democrats retained their majority in the Senate.

With results still coming in, the extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 52 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years.

Republican candidates also were running strong in governors’ races, while Democrats were guaranteed to hold at least 50 of the 100 Senate seats with a handful of close races still outstanding, according to the projections based on CNN’s analysis of exit poll data.

Whatever the final make-up of the Senate, it will include no African-American members. The only current African-American senator, Roland Burris of Illinois, is retiring, and none of the three African-American candidates won on Tuesday.

On the House side, Republicans picked up seats in a broad swath across the country, including victories over one-term Democrats who came to power in traditionally GOP districts in 2008.

Republicans needed a net gain of only three governorships Tuesday for a majority nationally. Often overshadowed during midterm campaigns, governorships can influence national politics by their influence in the redistricting of state electorates.

Exit poll data analysed by CNN showed the economy was the dominant issue on the minds of voters, and indicated that key constituencies shifted from supporting Democrats in 2008 to voting for Republicans this time.

One reason is likely opposition to the health care reform bill pushed through Congress over Republican opposition by

President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.

While Obama pledged the reforms would improve Medicare, Republican opponents warned of service cuts and higher costs, with some making false claims such as “death panels” in the bill that would decide whether the elderly receive treatment.

Heated campaigning continued to the last minute Tuesday, with Obama and former President Bill Clinton exhorting Democrats and independents to hold off a Republican surge while Republican candidates promised to change how Washington operates.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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