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5 Nov, 2014 04:32

Republicans take control of US Senate, ousting Democrats in midterms

Republicans have gained control of the United States Senate for the first time since 2006, wresting victories from Democrats as midterm voters expressed frustration with President Barack Obama and the White House.

The GOP victory comes after conservative candidates emerged victorious in Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa, where Republicans were able to unseat incumbent Democratic lawmakers. Republicans also fended off an Independent challenger in Kansas, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – and likely the new Majority Leader – safely escaped a Democratic challenger to hold onto his seat in Kentucky.

Currently, the makeup up of the Senate stands as such: Republicans with 52 seats and Democrats with 45.

Meanwhile, conservatives maintained their advantage in the House of Representatives, which remained strongly within the hands of Republicans. Early results showed the GOP gaining eight seats.

The results are not altogether surprising. Most polling analysts had the chances of a GOP takeover at around 75 percent before Tuesday’s voting commenced. Republicans faced tighter-than-expected races in Kentucky, Kansas, and Georgia, but ultimately their candidates were able to pull ahead.

For President Obama and the Democrats, the results are a significant setback, especially for the White House's governing agenda over the next two years. While some pundits have expressed hope that Congress can work with Obama to pass lingering free trade deals, immigration reform, and tax reform, most others have projected continued gridlock.

On the eve of Election Day, pollsters at Gallup ranked Obama's approval rating at just 41 percent. Concerns over how his office has handled the Ebola crisis, immigration and the so-called Islamic State, among other issues, have proven to be costly to the Democratic Party and its congressional candidates.

Despite being one of the main architects of the GOP's strategy to oppose Obama on most issues, McConnell said there was another way forward in Washington, noting, “just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict."

“We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” he added. “I don’t expect the president to wake up tomorrow morning and view the world any differently. He knows I won’t either.”