WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republicans seized control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in eight years Tuesday night.
The deciding race was the victory by Republican Thom Tillis over Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina.
Tillis’ win gave the Republicans the six seats they need for a majority in the Senate that takes office in January.
Republicans picked up seats earlier Tuesday in Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, many had been predicting the balance of power would tilt toward Republicans. They won control of the House of Representatives for two more years without much difficulty.
By 9 p.m., Republicans had captured three of the six seats they needed, the first being one West Virginia U.S. Senate seat long held by Democrats. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) won the Senate seat, and was the first of her party to make the claim since 1956.
Two other Republicans – Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Mike Rounds in South Dakota – picked up seats soon afterward. Steve Daines went on to defeat a Democratic incumbent in Montana, as did Cory Garnder in Colorado.
Many familiar names and faces were on the ballot Tuesday in the effort to make the Republican takeover happen – or stop it from happening.
Republican Scott Brown, who won and then lost late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy’s old seat in Massachusetts, moved states to run in New Hampshire. And Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of legendary Sen. Sam Nunn, was running for her father’s old seat in Georgia.
Brown lost in New Hampshire to Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. Nunn lost to Republican David Perdue.
Democrats before Tuesday had a 10-seat majority in the Senate. The GOP has argued that Democratic candidates have suffered because President Barack Obama is unpopular.
“They’re linked to Barack Obama. His ratings and approval are all in the ditch, and so is the country, and so that’s why I think you’re going to see a very big win among the Republicans tonight up and down the ticket,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus.
But Democrats said a superior “get out the vote” operation will stem the Republican tide.
“A couple of months ago, people thought the Republicans were going to run away with this thing in all these states,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Mo Elleithee. “But we’re finding them too close to call, and so it is going to come down to the voters here at the very end.”
Nancy Cordes of the CBS News election team earlier said this was the one year that the map simply worked against the Democrats.
“All you need to know is that there are nine battleground seats in the Senate, are seven of them are held by Democrats right now in states that by and large went for Mitt Romney,” Cordes said. “So these are Democrats that would be in tough races even if the president were more popular; even if voters felt better about the economy.”
Speaking to Dick Brennan and Alice Gainer on TV 10/55 Tuesday night, political scientist Doug Muzzio said a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate will mean an impasse in Washington.
“Gridlock becomes deadlock. It’s the Long Island Expressway with more cars on it,” Muzzio said. “We ain’t going to see much happening. It’s going to be bitter conflict between a Republican-controlled legislature and the President of the United States.”
Only one U.S. Senate seat in the Tri-State Area was up for election on Tuesday. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker was running for his first full term against Republican policy analyst Jeff Bell.
All six senators from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are Democrats. Those senators – Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey; and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut – will only face a loss of clout if control of the Senate flips to the Republicans.
They also will lose committee chairs and subcommittee chairs, but otherwise, little will change for the Tri-State Area senators, Muzzio said.
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