After a bruising year and a half battle and maybe a billion dollars later, the U.S. Senate is about where they were the last two years but with two additional Democrat seats. Tuesday's final election results give the Democrats 55 seats to the GOP's 43. Independents still hold two seats in the Senate.
While most of the attention was focused on the battle for the White House, political insiders and Wall Street types were carefully watching key Senate races in hopes that cumbersome bills such as Dodd-Frank could be overturned.
For the past two years Democrats held 53 seats in the Senate to the Republicans' 45. Senators Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.), both Independents, voted with the Democrats most all the time.
One of the "sure-thing" seats Republicans were expecting to pick up was the Missouri seat where incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill appeared to be wounded and bleeding. But Rep. Todd Akin defeated a wealthy businessman in a three-way race, only to fumble the ball two weeks later over his "legitimate rape" comment when addressing an abortion-related question.
Then there was Indiana. GOP Sen. Richard Lugar was defeated by Tea Party backed candidate and state treasurer Richard Mourdock who pointed out Lugar's "Rhino" voting record and the fact that he had not resided in his home state for years. Mourdock also had his own abortion misstep two weeks before the election. He also didn't have the full support of the mainstream GOPers in the Hoosier State.
Democratic Challenger Elizabeth Warren handily defeated Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown in what was billed as the most expensive Senate race in history
Other Republican hopefuls such as former Virginia Sen. George Allen and Florida Rep. Connie Mack fell short in two critical states for Romney, Virginia and Florida. Obama won Virginia and although results are not final, the president is leading in the Sunshine State. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson also lost in yet another state the GOP was hoping to carry.
After running as Sen. John Kerry's running mate against President George Bush in 2004, Lieberman lost two years later in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, but ended up winning as an Independent in the general election. However, he still caucused and voted with the Democrats most of the time. He chose to retire and was replaced by a Democrat.
Retiring Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, considered a moderate to left-leaning Republican, refused to endorse the GOP nominee, Charlie Summers, in the general election, setting the stage for Independent candidate and former Gov. Angus King to capture Snowe's vacant seat.
King said during the campaign has he is not beholden to either party, but he is considered to side with the Democrats, especially on social issues.
The bottom line for the GOP was losing Massachusetts and Maine gave the Democrats two additional seats. Plus, the inability to win states such as Virginia, Missouri and Indiana probably keeps majority control out of their reach for several years.
Female senators now make up one-fifth of the body with 20 women now serving in the upper chamber.
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