Republicans seized the majority in the US Senate during the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 4, reducing President Barack Obama field for his last two years in office, according to television projections.
Inflicting a serious blow to the Democrats, the Republican side now at least 52 of the 100 Senate seats and also retains control of the House of Representatives, sealing its hold on the Congress of the United States.
Republicans have thus won more than six wins needed to win the US Senate, dominated by Democrats since 2006, while keeping control of the House of Representatives, according to projections of American television.
It is the victory of the Republican Thom Tillis, who defeated the incumbent Democratic senator from North Carolina, Kay Hagan, who has tipped the balance on the Republican side. A few minutes later, confirmed by the Republican Joni Ernst victory several points ahead of his Democratic opponent, Bruce Braley from Iowa. Then by candidates from Colorado, Arkansas, Montana…
Among the latest results of the night, Republican Cory Gardner knocked out Democrat Mark Udall in the State of Colorado (west), who became famous for legalized cannabis for recreational purposes.
The Republican push is also felt in Arkansas (south) where Tom Cotton, a former soldier from Iraq and Afghanistan, has seized the seat of retiring Democrat Mark Pryor despite the support of former US President x Bill Clinton.
West Virginia (east), Republican Shelley Moore Capito clearly beat her Democratic rival Natalie Tennant. Same scenario was played in South Dakota (north), where Republican Mike Rounds defeated incumbent Democrat Rick Weiland.
Finally, in Montana, Republican Steve Daines has also debunked his Democratic rival Amanda Curtis, and took the field late in the day after the forced withdrawal of a victim of a plagiarism scandal candidate.
With the shift of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who easily retained his seat in Kentucky (middle east), became at age 72 the face of the opposition to President Obama. In total, 36 of the 100 Senate seats are renewed but only ten ballots were subject to considerable uncertainty.
One, Louisiana (South), will lead to a second round in December, none of the candidates have crossed the 50% mark. In momentum, the Republican opposition would maintain control over the House of Representatives since 2010 it holds.
Projections remain questionable but the Republican side could, according to some estimates, further strengthen its grip on the House where it held until now 233 seats.
The NBC channel gave them 242 seats against 193 retained by the Democrats. This margin would be smaller, however, according to CBS.
For the record, Tuesday’s election also saw the return to Texas (south) of another George Bush, George P. Bush, nephew and grand-son of two former presidents, who assumed the position of “land commissioner” a little known but powerful post.
But if Republicans won the elections by stirring the hatred of Obama, it is a Pyrrhic victory for the Republicans, divided between extremists of the Tea Party and the moderates.
In the US, the result of the midterm elections as no surprise: a victory for Republicans to regain control of the Senate and retain the majority in the House of Representatives.
What is surreal, it’s the atmosphere that surrounded the elections. Winners are hated by Americans (Congress has never been so unpopular). The president for a punching bag, but major reform is now a fact. An economy that has recovered to grow 3.5% – enough to make the world jealous! – But a country massively unhappy with this.
Elections without a theme and without major rating, but conservative activists are more excited than ever. A Congress that will more than ever look like trench warfare, but an electorate that says to be tired of it. And finally, a victory for Republicans which is likely to be offset by a loss in two years and even before that date, and which is also likely to turn into quicksand for the Conservatives.
The scarecrow Obama
Let’s start with Obama, since everything seems to have been revolving around him these few weeks. The midterms will be transformed into a referendum on an unpopular president. In fact, the scarecrow Obama worked perfectly well to mobilize the Conservatives who frankly hated him since the first day.
More surprisingly, the zeal it took the Democrats to stand out from the president, Alison Grimes, the Democratic candidate in Kentucky, even refusing to say whether or not she had voted for him in the presidential election. History will tell if such a strategy was the best, in the case of a man whose approval rating (42%) is stratospheric compared to that of François Hollande, whose health reform is on track to enter mores.
Obama stumbled on two obstacles: the economy, and personality. Economic recovery begins, but it seems to only benefit the wealthy. Between 2010 and 2013, 10% of the richest Americans saw their wealth increase by 2% or $3.3 million, while the poorest 20% saw their decrease of 21% to $65,000. Huge difference. As for the median income, real tune with the mood of the middle class, it has decreased by 4% since the first election of Obama. But the president cannot put all the blame on the economy.
Over the years, his cerebral personality, detached, too visible disgust for what politics have become, alienated much sympathy, even among Democrats. Ebola, in this respect, is a perfect example: it took weeks for the president to respond with something more than reasoning and expertise in this mass hysteria that should have been crushed in a bud, as it would have been done by Bill Clinton. For three weeks, Ebola has held 28% of the hot topics on the 3 major networks.
And on the diplomatic front, Syria and Iraq have reinforced the image of a president buffeted by crises abroad. Republicans have been right to stirring the scarecrow Obama. But their tactics are short-lived, the less sustainable now that Obama begins the end of his presidency: although veto allows him to stop the laws he deems extreme, he soon will become a “lame duck”, unable to govern with Congress against him.
For Republicans, the problems begin
On the other side of this table, the problems are just beginning. First, the unpopularity that symbolizes the personality of Mitch McConnell: Kentucky Senator, now majority leader in the Senate, is a man of the seraglio, as charismatic as a tree trunk, and who only defeated his Democratic opponent by stirring the hatred of Obama.
Congress is one of the most hated in all the history, the Republicans who put all their energy to block Obama on all fronts, rather than passing laws. If they want to win in 2016, the right should cease to be the “mister no” of American politics. The problem is that the Tea Party ultras are even more numerous in the House of Representatives, and they hope to transform the Senate in the war machine of Conservatives, under the leadership of Texan Ted Cruz.
But often they would rather lose than compromise their ideological purity. For the moderate, the case could turn quickly into a nightmare. The election of 2014 may be a Pyrrhic victory for the right. The renewable list of senators in 2016 gives every opportunity for the Democrats to regain the majority in two years.
As for the presidential election, we are still waiting to see the emergence of a credible candidate to challenge Hillary Clinton, who is a certain hyper-favorite at this time and day. But 2016 is in two years from now. Two more years of political combatting and stagnation, amid billion of election expenses. For the rest of the planet, this paralysis is anything but good news.
Barack Obama will have to “cohabit” with a Republican Congress, as they also retain their control of the House of Representatives.
The victory has also brought to the limelight the figure of Joni Ernst, the Republican who wants to make Washington “squeal”, according to her own wording.
“I grew up castrating pigs on a farm in Iowa. In Washington, I know how to cut the fat.”
Professing this threat against profligate parliamentarians in March in a $9,000 ad campaign dollars, the Republican Joni Ernst had made everyone laugh. Even in the opposite camp. Sarah Palin was born in 2014. And on Tuesday, November 4, she won Iowa, one of the key states that tipped the Senate to the right.
“It’s the mess. Dirty, noisy and it stinks. Not this lot, I’m talking about the one in Washington.”
Joni Ernst is known for a series of videos, sometimes in the middle of pigs, in plaid shirt, sleeveless jacket in which she vilifies public expenditure of the State. She talks about her past on farms. On photos of her campaign, she is often surrounded by farmers, rides Harley, sometimes puts her military uniform on to remember that she is a veteran of the Iraq war in 2003. Her outspoken manner of a tiller of the soil, are seducing.
Supported by the Tea Party
Joni Ernst is a far right. Supported by the Tea Party, she is everything rolled in one: she is against health care reform of Obama and wants to repeal it; to privatize Social Security; she is for radical budget cuts; against gay marriage; against abortion; against the second amendment authorizing the carrying of weapons; against the Agency for Environmental Protection and wants to abolish it.
In a portrait published by the “Guardian”, we learn that Joni Ernst grew up in modest circumstances in Red Oak, a remote corner of Montgomery County in southwest Iowa, “in the middle of cornfields and grain silos.” After a Bachelor of Science degree, she studied at the University of Columbus. Her ambition and leadership skills were noticed in the military when she joined as a member of the Army Reserve. During the war in Iraq, she commanded a battalion in Kuwait, responsible for logistics convoys to southern Iraq.
When she decided to run for midterm election, she gained the trust of the Republicans by promising she would always be “mother, soldier and conservative.” During the campaign, she received the support of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the libertarian Rand Paul and multibillionaire Koch brothers.
With such a pedigree, how was she able to win Iowa, a Democratic stronghold since almost 30 years, which saw the birth of the Obama phenomenon in 2008? The election of Joni Ernst is perceived by some observers of the political plays as a barometer of the confidence of the country in respect of policies.
In running against very experienced Democrat Bruce Braley, Joni Ernst had always considered her chances. She relied on a close campaign through public meetings on a human scale and visited each of the 99 counties of the state. She has also surfed, of course, on the “Obama-bashing.” The wear of Barack Obama power, disappointment it left in the Democratic Party, economic recovery which is not yet perceived by Americans every day… All this was because of Bruce Braley, whose image was exploited as that of a scapegoat.
The latter called for Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama to deal with the threat. In vain. In the final stretch, Joni Ernst took advantage of a blunder by the outgoing Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, who compared her to Taylor Swift:
“She is really attractive and looks nice […] I do not care whether she is as pretty as Taylor Swift or as friendly as Mister Rogers as long as she votes as Michel Bachmann. It is not the right person for the State of Iowa.”
The Democrat apologized, but the damage was done. The candidate has been accused of sexism. First woman senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, 44, is full of promise.