Republicans hold on to Senate

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The Independent US

Republicans retained their hold on the Senate and House of Representatives by the slimmest of margins, barely turning back a ferocious, well-financed Democratic bid to gain a majority.

Republicans retained their hold on the Senate and House of Representatives by the slimmest of margins, barely turning back a ferocious, well-financed Democratic bid to gain a majority.

With winners declared in 33 of the 34 races at stake, Republicans will have at least a 50-48 margin in the Senate. For the Democrats, that was more than enough to use the minority's power to wreak havoc with the Republican's legislative agenda by forcing procedural delays.

Republicans would maintain control in case of a 50-50 split, no matter who wins the White House. A Republican vice president, in his role as president of the Senate, would break a tie.

Joseph Lieberman's re-election to a third term actually gave Democrats 49 seats, but he would have to resign if elected vice president, leaving Connecticut's Republican governor to name a GOP replacement.

Republicans held 220 of the 435 House seats and Democrats were holding 211 seats and leading in one other - a trend that would give them a net gain of two. Two independents, one reliably siding with each party, won their re-election bids. Two races were still undecided at 1330 GMT.

With Republicans retaining narrow control of the House, Senate Democrats - with their constitutional ability to filibuster or delay bills with just 41 votes - loomed as perhaps their party's best roadblock to Republican initiatives in Congress.

But the Republican majority of 54-46 will become 52-48 in the next Congress at best.

Holding the majority would give Republicans their first eight-year stretch of Senate supremacy since the 1932 elections ended 14 years of unbroken Republican control.

Of the 29 incumbents seeking re-election in the Senate, three were toppled: veteran Democratic Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia and Republican Sens. Rod Grams of Minnesota and William Roth of Delaware.

Roth, 79, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, lost his bid for a sixth term to Delaware Democratic Gov. Thomas Carper. Roth's age had become a factor in the race after he stumbled twice publicly.

Republican George Allen, the former governor of Virginia, ousted Robb after two terms in the Senate. Robb, son-in-law of President Lyndon Johnson, was the last Democrat holding statewide office in the Republican-leaning state.

In Minnesota, department store heir Mark Dayton used millions of dollars of his own money to defeat the conservative Grams, who served a low-profile single term and was beset by a divorce and other personal problems.

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