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GOP Gains Control of House, Narrows Dem Lead in Senate GOP Gains Control of House, Narrows Dem Lead in Senate

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Politics

GOP Gains Control of House, Narrows Dem Lead in Senate

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John Boehner speaks at the National Republican Congressional Committee election night watch party at the Washington Hyatt.(Liz Lynch)

Updated at 7:38 a.m. on November 3.

Republicans seized control of the House and slashed the Democrats' Senate majority in epic midterm elections on Tuesday, as angry voters divided power in Washington and dealt a political blow to President Obama.

 

His voice choked with emotion, House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner called the results "a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of Big Government, and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people."

A chastened Obama monitored returns at the White House, then telephoned Boehner with congratulations. He scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon, the first step in what he hopes will be a political rebound en route to reelection in 2012.

In elections shadowed by high unemployment, Republicans picked up at least six Senate seats but fell short of the 10 they needed to gain control. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada narrowly defeated tea party favorite Sharron Angle.

 

"I’m not finished fighting," Reid said to a crowd of supporters chanting "Harry! Harry!"

Needing 39 new seats for a House majority, Republicans picked up at least 60 -- the largest power shift in more than 70 years. More than a dozen races were too close to call.

In Senate races, tea party favorites Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida easily defeated their Democratic rivals, who had cast them as extremists. But Christine O'Donnell lost badly in Delaware, a state that Republicans had long thought would be in their column.

"We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party," Rubio said. A rising GOP star, Rubio seized his new role as a party leader and potential presidential candidate, casting the results as "a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago."

 

Even as he claimed the Speaker's gavel, Boehner said, "The American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington."

With unemployment at 9.6 percent nationally, interviews with voters revealed an extraordinarily sour electorate, stressed financially and poorly disposed toward the president, the political parties, and the federal government.

About 4 in 10 voters said they were worse off financially now than they were two years ago, according to preliminary exit poll results and preelection surveys by the Associated Press. More than 1 in 3 said their votes were an expression of opposition to Obama. More than half expressed negative views about both political parties. Roughly 40 percent of voters considered themselves supporters of the conservative tea party movement. Less than half said they wanted the government to do more to solve problems.

The preliminary findings were based on Election Day and preelection interviews with more than 9,000 voters.

Republicans gained at least seven governorships, which will help the party gain the upper hand in the redrawing of congressional districts.

CORRECTION: The original version of this report misstated how many new seats Republicans would need to win for a House majority.

The Associated Press contributed contributed to this article.

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