Tales from the midterms: joy for Arnie, agony for the Iraq veteran

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The Independent US

Republican winner: Arnold Schwarzenegger

The re-election of the Governor of California was the Republicans' biggest national success. A beaming Mr Schwarzenegger, who trounced his Democratic challenger by more than 15 percentage points, quipped: "I love doing sequels." But he also laid out a vision of Republican leadership 180 degrees removed from the George Bush-Karl Rove model based on divisive social issues such as gay marriage.

Stem-cell victor: Claire McCaskill

The Senate candidate in the key swing state of Missouri beat the Republicans with a taste of their own electoral medicine. In much the same way that Republican candidates squeaked home in 2004 with the help of ballot initiatives on divisive social issues such as gay marriage, Ms McCaskill won with the help of a Democrat-sponsored ballot initiative backing embryonic stem-cell research, which passed handsomely.

War hero loses: Tammy Duckworth

She was in many ways the emblematic figure of this election campaign: an Iraq war veteran who lost her legs in combat and then channelled all the anger and frustration over her experience into a congressional race in a conservative Chicago suburb. In the end, however, she couldn't overcome the electoral arithmetic. She lost to Peter Roskam, a state senator, but by just a few percentage points.

Dirty-tricks loser: Harold Ford

The Democrat Senator may have been the victim of the dirtiest campaign across the country. It's a tough call, given the cesspool conditions that characterised much of the electioneering. But an allegedly race-baiting television advert paid for by Republicans in Tennessee which suggested Mr Ford had been partying with a Playboy bunnygirl probably takes the prize. It also helped Republican Bob Corker win the Senate seat.

Voters' revenge: Lincoln Chafee

No matter that his approval rating in his state was some 65 per cent, or that he was scion of one of its most eminent political dynasties. No matter that he voted against the Iraq war in 2002, and did not vote for George Bush in 2004. Rhode Island's voters sacked Lincoln Chafee because he was a Republican. A vote for Chafee was a vote for Republican control of the Senate, said his opponent Sheldon Whitehouse. And that was enough.

The first Muslim: Keith Ellison

Congress now has its first Muslim. Keith Ellison is an African-American who converted to Islam at university and was once a follower of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. But Mr Ellison overcame attacks on that score, and allegations of past tax irregularities, to become the representative for Minnesota's 5th district, centred on Minneapolis. He has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war.

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