The 2014 midterm election results are in. And in keeping with the expectations and conventional wisdom, the Republicans have taken control of the U.S. Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats. For the President, the results lay the groundwork for a very interesting final two years in office. With no possibility of common ground with a GOP-controlled Congress, expect Obama to use his veto pen often, and go it alone through the use of executive orders.
With 36 Senate seats in play, mostly in red states, the deck was stacked against the Democrats from the outset. Sen. Mary Landrieu—who faces a runoff election because no candidate broke through the required 50 percent threshold–created controversy when she suggested the obvious, which is that the South has a problem with Obama because of his race.
“I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” Landrieu said. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Meanwhile, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) winning his race against challenger Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, the GOP lawmaker is poised to become majority leader of the upper chamber of Congress. Grimes—who attempted to distance herself from the president in a state where he is unpopular— was faulted for refusing to say whether she voted for Obama.
Compounding the problem for Democrats this election cycle was the issue of lower turnout by the base in midterms, when President Obama was not on the ballot, and the specter of voter suppression efforts such as voter ID, purges and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act making an impact in key races.
Among the more high profile races, North Carolina incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) lost to Republican Thom Tillis. In Georgia, Republican David Purdue beat Democrat Michelle Nunn, and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) held on to his seat, while incumbent Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) lost his reelection bid to Tom Cotton. In the New Hampshire race, incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) defeated challenger Scott Brown, while Cory Gardner, a Republican, bested incumbent Mark Udall in Colorado.
The two African-American U.S. senators, Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) will return to the legislative body. Booker is the first black senator elected in New Jersey. Scott, who had been appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 to finish the term of resigning Senator Jim DeMint, is the first black senator elected to the South since Reconstruction.