The 2012 elections will go down as a victory for Democrats, who held the White House and control of the Senate, even as the party appeared likely to pick up only a handful of seats in the House.
Success on Tuesday would be defined by what happened in the presidential contest, and President Barack Obama won a convincing re-election over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Obama carried every swing state except for North Carolina, which was one of only two states that he won in 2008 that did not go his way again this year. Florida was the only state yet to be called by Wednesday morning, though the president held a lead of 46,039 votes there with 100 percent of precincts reporting. He had already topped 300 electoral votes, and only needed 270 electoral votes to win.
“Tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future,” Obama said in his victory speech in Chicago. “I have never been more hopeful about America.”
The takeaway for many of the pundits Tuesday night was that the Republican Party needed to broaden its appeal as it begins working toward future electoral success. This election cycle marked the first time that Hispanics accounted for at least 10 percent of the electorate, and 71 percent voted for Obama. The president also carried young voters, ages 18-29, with 60 percent.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — a top Romney surrogate — said early this morning that his party needs to be more inclusive of “minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it.”
He added, “The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them. I look forward to working on these goals with my new and returning colleagues in Congress and hope the president will get behind our efforts.”
In the Senate, Democrats may have actually added to their majority, a remarkable feat given the chips stacked against the party at the outset of the cycle. Democrats held just a 53-47 majority and were defending 23 seats to only 10 for Republicans. Their majority in the 113th Congress will be no smaller than that. Democrats picked up GOP-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana, and Senator-elect Angus King (I-Maine) is considered likely to caucus with Democrats. Republicans, however, have only picked up one Democratic held seat so far, in Nebraska.