Last night was a good night for Republicans.
First off, they gained 13 seats in the House of Representatives to further strengthen their majority there (they now hold 243 seats vs. the Democrats’ 175).
But more importantly, they also gained 7 seats in the Senate, flipping the balance of power there back to the GOP, which now holds 52 seats vs. the Democrat’s 45. This marks the first time that Republicans have held both houses of Congress since 2006.
Republican candidates dominated in the 10 states that were being considered “toss-ups” before the elections, winning 8 of those races.
They took Senate seats from 7 incumbent Democrats, in the states of Montana, Colorado, West Virginia, South Dakota, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arkansas.
Republicans also did well in state elections for governor. Republican candidates beat out incumbent democrats in four states: Massachusetts, Arkansas, Maryland and Illinois (President Obama’s home state).
Meanwhile, two other Republicans won key reelections while adding to the buzz around their potential presidential campaigns in 2016: John Kasich in the swing state of Ohio, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.
So what does all this mean for politics in America? Well, the results seem to be indicative of American voters’ growing discontent about the state of government itself.
A poll carried out recently by Reuters and Ipsos showed that 75% of respondents think the Obama administration, “…needs to rethink issues facing the country.” 63% agree that Obama should replace some of his senior staff after the election to, “get a fresh start”.
One thing is certain: Obama will be facing increased pressure from Congress to make changes in the White House.
But Republicans holding both houses of Congress also puts the responsibility of the legislature squarely on their shoulders.
The past few years have been characterized by a partisan back-and-forth between the two houses, with Republicans in the House of Representatives routinely blocking measures proposed by Democrats in the Senate and vice versa.
With control of both houses now, the American public will be looking directly to the GOP to guide Congress in the right direction – and that may prove to be a difficult task indeed: as of October 15, Congress’s approval rating was just 14%.
Making the American people happy, especially in the age of politically-charged cable news, is a difficult task indeed. Just ask Obama: with unemployment at its lowest levels since he took office, a Times/CBS News poll found that his approval rating on jobs was only 40%.
So with the next presidential elections coming up in 2016, the GOP has two years to prove that their model of governance is truly right for the future of the country, and that is a tall order indeed.