Breaking down the 2014 Republican wave

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Republicans win big in Senate and House and pick up seats in governors races, too
  • Their wins weren’t just in red states
  • What happens next? There is incentive for both sides to work together

The Morning LineRepublicans clean up — even in purple states: Last night was a huge night for Republicans. They took back the Senate, netting seven seats (so far); they could get up to 250 House seats when all the vote counting is completed, which would be the most seats for Republicans since 1931; and they gained two governors seats, which was unexpected. Make no mistake, Democrats can’t dismiss these results as just a product of midterm fundamentals and a bad map. Republicans not only won in the red states, where Mitt Romney won in 2012, which could have been enough to take control of the Senate, but they also won in purple states and places President Barack Obama won. The GOP won Senate races in Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina — and lost very narrowly in Virginia; it won governors’ races in Florida, Illinois (the president’s home state), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin; and, in the House, they made inroads in the Northeast, where they had zero House members before last night, winning races in New Hampshire, New York and possibly Maine.

Here’s what the balance of power was, is and could be:

Was: 53-45 Democratic advantage with two independents caucusing with the Democrats
Now: 52-43 Republican advantage with two independents. There are still three races that have not yet been called — Virginia, Alaska and Louisiana, but Republicans’ number could move up to 54 seats. They’re leading in Alaska and Rep. Bill Cassidy is the favorite in a head-to-head runoff Dec. 6 with incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.
Net gain: +7 currently, could get up to +9.

Was: 234-201 Republican advantage
Now: 242-174 Republican advantage with 19 seats that have still not been called. But when all the counting is done, Republicans could get up to 250 seats, which is what NBC is projecting. Democrats picked up one seat in Florida, but lost 14.
Net gain: +13 currently, could get up to +19 give or take a few seats.

Was: 29-21 Republican advantage
Now: 31-15 Republican advantage with four races not yet called: Alaska, Colorado, Vermont and Connecticut. Currently, Democrats lead in Colorado, Vermont and Connecticut. By the way, despite the record number of governors at risk, just three incumbents potentially could wind up losing (Tom Corbett, R, Pennsylvania, Pat Quinn, D, in Illinois and Sean Parnell, R, in Alaska) if the Democrats in Colorado and Connecticut, who are leading, win. By the way, in a symbolic blow to Democrats, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin did not reach the necessary 50 percent and now the legislature will decide his fate. He is expected to be reelected because it is Democratic-controlled.
Net gain: +3, could drop to +2 if Sean Parnell, who is currently trailing, loses to independent Bill Walker.

So what’s next? The big question now is, can anything get done? President Obama is holding a 2:50 p.m. EST news conference. Remember, in 2010, after Democrats lost 63 seats in the House, he called it a “shellacking.” What does he call it today? He will likely say that he “continues” to be willing to work with Republicans on areas of agreement and that he hopes they can do so. Republicans have been very gracious in victory so far. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Wednesday morning on MSNBC that Republicans’ challenge and mandate now is to “demonstrate you can govern.”

Democrat Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, floated debt, the tax code and immigration as potential areas where the parties could work together. And maybe there is some incentive for both sides to do something. President Obama wants to avoid looking like a lame duck and a damaged legacy, and Republicans want to show they can govern — and not be swept out of power again in two years. It will be a presidential year with more Democratic core voters showing up to vote, especially with a Hillary Clinton run if she does it, and the Senate map more heavily tilts toward Democrats in 2016. And remember, there’s already a Biden-McConnell negotiation avenue that has been turned to in the past.

The PBS Morning Line six bellwethers: Remember our six counties to watch in 2014? All six of our bellwether counties held up Tuesday night.

Georgia: Perdue 53-45 | Gwinnett Co.: Perdue 54-44
Colorado: Gardner 50-45 | Jefferson Co.: Gardner 47.4-46.9
North Carolina: Tillis 49-47 | Watauga Co.: Tillis 49-46
Iowa: Ernst 52-44 | Cedar Co.: Ernst 55-41
Kentucky: McConnell 56-41 | Daviess Co.: McConnell 56-41
Louisiana: Landrieu 42-41 | Jefferson Parish: Landrieu 45-39
*We’ll continue tracking our Louisiana bellwether as the campaign continues into the runoff election.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term in office. When was the law changed to limit the president to two terms? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to roy wait ‏(@ind22rxw) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: Five other presidents were elected on Nov. 4, after Congress made Election Day the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in 1845; who were they? The answer was: Buchanan, Cleveland, Coolidge, Eisenhower and Reagan.


  • President Obama will hold a press conference in the East Room at 2:50 p.m. EST Wednesday.
  • In Alaska’s Senate race, with 73 percent of the vote in, Republican Dan Sullivan is beating incumbent Sen. Mark Begich 49 to 45 percent.
  • In Virginia, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner already made a victory speech, but no one has named him the projected winner, Republican Ed Gillespie has yet to concede and Warner’s lead still falls within the 1 percent recount margin.
  • Eight California House Democrats are still waiting to hear their fate, as well as one open House race in the state. In Arizona, there are two Democratic incumbent’s whose races have not been called: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Rep. Ron Barber. Kirkpatrick is in the lead in her race, but Barber is neck and neck with Republican Martha McSally, who is leading the former aide to Gabby Giffords by 36 votes. Maine’s 2nd Congressional District has not been called yet; this is the seat left open my Mike Michaud, who ran and lost to Gov. Paul LePage. The seat left open by retiring Rep. Doc Hastings in Washington state has not been called. There are two Louisiana House seats waiting to be called, including in Edwin Edwards’ race. There are also races in New York, Maryland and Nebraska that are too close to call right now.
  • Mr. Obama called and left a message for Mitch McConnell Wednesday morning to congratulate him.
  • This cycle, Republicans finally had the right candidates, Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report, and where they had politicians fumbling — Sens. Pat Roberts and Thad Cochran — they sent in teams to overhaul their campaigns and get them on message.
  • For the first time in 141 years, Arkansas will no longer have a Democrat in their congressional delegation.
  • The Louisiana runoff began before either candidate knew they hadn’t received 50 percent of the vote. In October, the Bill Cassidy campaign had already bought air time for ads to begin airing Nov. 5th. And Freedom Partners was quick to release an ad Tuesday night tying Landrieu to President Obama.
  • Even Democratic Governors Association chair Peter Shumlin struggled Tuesday night, failing to garner 50 percent of the vote. By Vermont law, that pushes the gubernatorial contest to the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats and is expected to select the plurality winner.
  • Recreational use of marijuana in Washington, D.C. and Oregon was given the okay by voters on Tuesday.
  • Democrats may have lost badly last night, but one of their key ballot initiatives — minimum wage increase — was successful in four states.
  • How did 2016 hopefuls do on Tuesday? National Journal put together a scorecard of how well potential presidential nominees did based on their endorsement of midterm candidates.
  • Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg spent more than $20 million in support of a few successful gubernatorial candidates this cycle, including Republican Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in Michigan and Democrat Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island. Bloomberg also backed Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy in Connecticut and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado, both of whom have not yet been re-elected.
  • So who’s going to be in charge come January? New leadership means new committee chairs. Here is a list of the potential Senate Committee chairmen or chairwomen in the next session of Congress:

Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry: Pat Roberts (Kan.)
Appropriations: Thad Cochran (Miss.)
Armed Services: John McCain (Ariz.)
Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs: Richard Shelby (Ala.)
Budget: Jeff Sessions (Ala.)
Commerce, Science, Transportation: John Thune (S.D.)
Energy & Natural Resources: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Environment & Public Works: Jim Inhofe (Okla.)
Finance: Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Foreign Relations: Bob Corker (Tenn.)
Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions: Mike Enzi (Wyo.)
Homeland Sec. & Gov’t Affairs: Susan Collins (Maine)
Intelligence: Richard Burr (N.C.)
Judiciary: Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
Rules & Administration: Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Small Business & Entrepreneurship: David Vitter (La.)
Veterans’ Affairs: Richard Burr (N.C.)









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