Big night for Repub­li­cans in Congress

GOP poised to re­tain power in House

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Mark Z. Barabak and Lisa Mas­caro

Repub­li­cans were poised to keep con­trol of the House and quite pos­si­bly hang onto the U.S. Se­nate, buoyed by an un­ex­pect­edly strong show­ing atop the ticket by Don­ald Trump.

Af­ter los­ing con­trol two years ago, Democrats needed a net gain of five seats to re­take a Se­nate ma­jor­ity if Trump won the White House. They needed four if Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton pre­vailed and her run­ning mate, Tim Kaine, be­came the tie-break­ing vote

With fewer than a hand­ful of con­tests to be de­cided, Repub­li­cans had pre­vailed in ev­ery one of the coun­try’s hard­est-fought con­tests, with one ex­cep­tion. In Illi­nois, Demo­cratic Rep. Tammy Duck­worth knocked off Mark Kirk, seen as one of the most vul­ner­a­ble GOP in­cum­bents in the coun­try.

The Repub­li­can House ma­jor­ity was never se­ri­ously in doubt and Democrats came nowhere close to the 30- seat gain they needed to take con­trol, pick­ing up just a hand­ful of seats in early re­turns.

The out­come in the Se­nate had ap­peared less cer­tain, hing­ing on con­tests in more than a half dozen states, in­clud­ing Ne­vada, New Hamp­shire, Wis­con­sin, Mis­souri and Penn­syl­va­nia.

As the elec­tion re­turns rolled in, Repub­li­cans proved re­silient.

In Wis­con­sin, Ron John­son had been all but writ­ten off by strate­gists. in both par­ties. In­stead, he hand­ily fended off a come­back at­tempt by for­mer Demo­cratic Sen. Russ Fein­gold. In North Carolina, Richard Burr won a sec­ond term de­spite wag­ing a lack­lus­ter cam­paign.

Ari­zona Sen. John McCain eas­ily won a sixth term af­ter the hard­est-fought chal­lenge of his lengthy Florida Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio, a for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, greets sup­port­ers Tues­day af­ter win­ning a sec­ond term in of­fice. In Ohio, Rob Port­man also won re-elec­tion. ca­reer.

Repub­li­cans, who hold 54 of 100 seats, also claimed vic­tory in two states once eyed by Democrats as po­ten­tially solid takeover prospects.

In Florida, Marco Ru­bio — a once and likely fu­ture pres­i­den­tial can­di­date — coasted to a sec­ond term af­ter he re­versed him­self and de­cided to seek an­other term. In Ohio, Rob Port­man also won easy re-elec­tion.

In In­di­ana, for­mer Sen. Evan Bayh dis­ap­pointed Democrats by fail­ing in his come­back at­tempt, los­ing the state’s open-seat con­test to Rep. Todd Young.

Tues­day’s re­sults were not ex­pected to ease the par­ti­san in­fight­ing or per­sis­tent grid­lock that has de­fined Congress in re­cent years, to the great frus­tra­tion of many vot­ers.

“I’m hard-pressed to think that Congress will be able to muster much more agree­ment with them­selves or the in­com­ing pres­i­dent,” said Sarah Bin­der, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity and ex­pert on Congress.

Part of the dys­func­tion in Congress could be eased if the new pres­i­dent played a more ac­tively bi­par­ti­san role, reach­ing across the aisle much the way for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton did when he faced a Repub­li­can-held Congress, some an­a­lysts said.

Po­lit­i­cally, how­ever, there may be lit­tle in­cen­tive for the new pres­i­dent to court votes across the aisle af­ter such a deeply po­lar­iz­ing elec­tion.

Vot­ers seemed equally skep­ti­cal of change.

“I thought Congress would get bet­ter when Jes-

WILFREDO LEE/AP

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