Republicans were poised to strengthen their grip on the House in Tuesday’s midterm election, eyeing their largest majority since the 1940s.
With around 40 competitive congressional races taking place around the country, most analysts and operatives predicted that Republicans, who currently enjoy a 17-seat hold on the chamber, would gain five to 12 seats. But with the political environment tilting strongly in the GOP’s favor and with Republicans on offense in the vast majority of races, they stressed that those numbers could go higher.
GOP leaders have set a goal of notching 11 seats, which would pad their majority heading into what is expected to be a much more challenging 2016 election.
Just before polls began to close in some eastern states, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared before reporters at the Democratic Party’s Washington headquarters. “It’s a difficult night,” she said glumly. “We can’t predict what will happen.”
Democrats suffered defeats in West Virginia, where longtime Rep. Nick Rahall was defeated; in Florida, where Rep. Joe Garcia went down; and in Georgia, where Rep. John Barrow, the only white Democrat representing a district in the Deep South, lost his seat. In Illinois, Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart, a freshman, was also ousted.
One bright spot for Democrats came in Florida, where Gwen Graham, a Leon County schools official and the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, defeated GOP Rep. Steve Southerland.
SOURCE: ALEX ISENSTADT