Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Obama suffers major blow: Republicans claim US House of Representatives majority

Obama suffers major blow: Riding wave of voter discontent and economic woes to directly challenge president's agenda, Republicans claim US House of Representatives majority, capturing at least 53 seats from Democrats, who keep Senate

Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent and conservative outrage to capture a House of Representatives majority from President Barack Obama's Democrats on Tuesday, ending the Democrats' reign after just four years and building a bulwark against Obama's agenda.

The Republican party – energized by the ultraconservative Tea Party movement and voter disillusionment with Obama, incumbents and high unemployment – captured at least 53 seats from Democrats, and would exceed the 40 needed to gain a majority.

They made big gains also in the Senate but fell short of a majority.

Republicans led in another 13 districts. Democrats had only picked up 2 Republican seats.

A Republican takeover of the House would foist a divided government on Americans, complicate Obama's agenda and could lead to attempts to repeal his sweeping health care reform legislation. Republicans have campaigned on cutting taxes and shrinking government.

Republicans were on track to their biggest House gains since they picked up 80 seats in 1938.

Democrats had controlled the House by a 255-178 margin, with two vacancies. All 435 seats were contested.

The election was a remarkable turnabout from 2008, when Obama's victory helped propel Democrats to big gains in their House majority, following the 2006 wave that swept them to power there.

Republican Leader John Boehner, in line to claim the leadership position known as speaker and become second in line for the presidency after the vice president, huddled with party leaders, careful to avoid a party-like atmosphere at a time when voters appear fed up with both parties.

"Across the country right now, we are witnessing a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government, and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people," Boehner said.

If Democrats lose the House after only four years, it would be the shortest a party has held the lower chamber since Republicans kept it for just two years from 1953-1955.