GOP sees majority in both houses
The Republican party saw victory from the top down in the 2016 general election, clinching a majority in both chambers of Congress.
As of approximately 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Republican seats in the House of Representatives were estimated to fall from 246 to 235, well clearing the 218 seats needed to cement a majority. Most districts stuck to the status quo, replacing Republicans with Republicans and Democrats with Democrats. Six districts flipped from one party to another, with one turning Republican and five turning Democratic.
Of the 100 seats in the Senate, 34 were up for election. The most competitive battleground states were Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Of those open seats, all but Nevada went to a Republican candidate. As of 4 a.m. on Wednesday, there was no conclusive result for the New Hampshire Senate race. Republicans lost one seat in the Senate in Illinois, where Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth defeated Republican incumbent Mark Kirk by a double-digit margin of 14.7 percent.
One of the most notable congressional races took place in Florida. After dropping out of the Republican primaries, Marco Rubio had said in May that he would not run for reelection and looked forward to life as a private citizen again.
However, Rubio reversed his decision in June, announcing that he would indeed seek a second term, contrary to his previous statements. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida,” Rubio said of his decision to run again in a Jun. 20 statement on his website. “That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”
Rubio ultimately won by a margin of 7.9 percent, defeating Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy. “This is an extraordinary place,” Rubio told supporters after the race was called on Tuesday night, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “Florida is a collection of all the things that make us the greatest nation on Earth. … Florida is America, and it's such an honor to be able to represent this extraordinary state.”
No candidate won the race for the open Louisiana Senate seat, and a runoff election will be held on Dec. 10. In all, Republicans now take up 52 seats while Democrats have 47.
In Massachusetts, no senatorial seats were up for election. As for the House of Representatives, all nine districts were solidly blue.
This year’s congressional elections are especially significant following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, as Senate approval is required for the president to appoint and confirm a replacement. Sitting President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, has been caught up in the longest wait for a Senate confirmation hearing in Supreme Court history.
Even so, the Republicans do not have a supermajority in the Senate. If the Democratic minority took a page from Mitch McConnell and filibustered any Justice nominated by the president, Republicans would need an additional eight Democrats to counter that.