US Congress math favours status quo after election

 

After a barrage of advertising as both parties sought control of Congress's two chambers, today's election is likely to confirm the status quo: the Republicans keep the House and Democrats narrowly control the Senate.

Voters will decide today who will occupy all 435 U.S. House seats and 33 of the 100 Senate seats. While Democrats' goal of wresting control of the House was long viewed as remote, Republicans early this year were given a good chance to win the four seats needed for a Senate majority. A crucial retirement, a primary loss and missteps by Republican candidates dimmed those prospects.

"The 113th Congress is going to be a carbon copy of the 112th," said Ross Baker, a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who specializes in American politics.

The next Congress, with either a second-term President Barack Obama or a new President Mitt Romney, will face divisive tax-and-spending issues after years of unsuccessfully trying to reduce the budget deficit. Lawmakers also may have to address the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts that will start in January if Congress doesn't act in a lame- duck session beginning later this month.

Continued gridlock would be probable next year in a Congress with an unchanged balance of power, said Jennifer Duffy, Senate analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. Both parties will "find things in this election to encourage them to continue to behave as they've behaved the last two to four years," she said.

Congress's Gallup Poll approval rating was 21 percent in October, among the lowest historically in the month before an election.

In the House, campaign analysts predict that Democrats will gain at most 10 seats, far short of the 25 they need to win a majority. Redistricting after the 2010 Census favored Republicans in most areas. Some moderate Democrats decided to retire rather than seek re-election in Republican-leaning districts.

Democrats control the Senate 53-47. Republicans are defending 10 seats compared with 23 Democratic seats. Of those races, the Cook Political Report rated 10 as "toss-up," where neither party appear to have a clear advantage. The odds of a Republican Senate majority fell from 70 percent in February to less than 40 percent now, according to Cook.

The odds began declining when Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine announced in February she would retire.

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin had been favored to defeat first-term Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill until August, when he said "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.

About two weeks before Election Day, Republican Richard Mourdock imperiled his Senate campaign in Indiana by saying pregnancies resulting from rape are "something God intended to happen." A favorite of the anti-tax tea party, Mourdock defeated six-term Republican incumbent Richard Lugar in a primary vote. Mourdock is running against Democrat Joe Donnelly, a three-term House member.

Of all the Senate battles, Virginia's may be the best indicator tonight of which party is running stronger nationally. The race between former governors Tim Kaine, a Democrat, and George Allen, a Republican, has mirrored the presidential campaign in polls.

"If Kaine is running ahead it will tell you several things, it may tell you the president is doing well," Baker said.

The top Senate races were flooded with advertising funded by outside partisan groups, including Virginia with $35 million, Wisconsin with $30.7 million, Ohio with $27 million and Indiana with $21.5 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

The Massachusetts Senate race has been among the most closely watched. Incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren were in a tight race, though in the past several weeks she has pulled ahead. Warren gained star status in her party by attacking Wall Street, and Democrats gave her a prime-time speaking slot at their national convention in September.

Connecticut's Senate race pits three-term Representative Chris Murphy, a Democrat, against Linda McMahon, former president of World Wrestling Entertainment. She ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2010 and has spent almost $100 million of her own money on her two campaigns.

In Arizona, six-term Republican U.S. Representative Jeff Flake is running for retiring Senator Jon Kyl's seat. Flake is in a close race with Democrat Richard Carmona, who was U.S. surgeon general during the George W. Bush administration.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller, appointed in 2011 to fill a vacant seat, is running neck-and-neck with Democratic U.S. Representative Shelley Berkley.

In Nebraska, Republican Deb Fischer is rated by Cook and others as likely to win retiring Democrat Ben Nelson's seat. That may be offset in Maine, where independent Angus King, a former governor, is running ahead of the Republican and Democratic nominees for Snowe's seat. King probably would caucus with Democrats.

Two other Senate seats Republicans sought to pick up proved a challenge. In Montana, the race between Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Republican U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg is close. In North Dakota, former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, was tied with freshman Republican Representative Rick Berg in an Oct. 3-5 Mason-Dixon poll.

In the House, Republican lawmakers in many states were able to draw congressional voting districts in their favor, said political scientist David Rohde of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Without redistricting, Democrats probably would gain 11 to 20 seats instead of one to nine, he said.

Veteran Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa faced the toughest re-election fight of his career. King, a five-term congressman, is opposed by Democrat Christie Vilsack, Iowa's former first lady and wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. She received campaign support from former President Bill Clinton.

Democratic Representative Jim Matheson of Utah, a leader of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, is running against Republican Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah. If she wins, Love would be the first black woman to serve as a House Republican.

In Florida, tea party-backed freshman Allen West, a Republican, was in a tight race with Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. Outside groups allied with both parties have spent $5.3 million on the campaign.

Non-partisan redistricting in California and the state's universal primary law pitted incumbent House Democrats Brad Sherman and Howard Berman against each other in a Los Angeles- area district. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, won the endorsement of second-ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Redistricting in California could endanger House re- election bids by Republicans Dan Lungren, Brian Bilbray and Jeff Denham.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said that if his Republican Party wins control of the chamber, a priority would be repealing Obama's 2010 health-care law. Tax increases would be off the table as part of any plan to reduce the deficit.

If Romney wins the presidency, McConnell said he would urge him to immediately impose a moratorium on federal regulations. He's pushing for an end to what opponents call Obama's "war on coal."

--

With assistance from James Rowley and Roxana Tiron in Washington.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne celebrates after salvaging a point with the Southampton equaliser
footballAston Villa vs Southampton report
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible