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Point of View: Republican win means possible stalemate

Nov. 3, 2010

By Samreen Hooda

Republicans needed 39 seats to win over the House, and they got it. Dominating in the East Coast from the onset, where more seats were open, the House turned right early in the night. At press time, CNN Election Center projected the Republicans at 225 seats and the Democrats at 150, with 60 seats still up for grabs.

The Senate was more of an uphill climb for the Republicans, where a critical loss in West Virginia could cost them the majority, but by no means will they be an overwhelming minority in the upper house of Congress.

Currently the Republican Party maintains 44 of the 100 seats; even at a 50-50 stalemate, the Republicans will have gained nine seats in Senate.

Clearly, the days of Democratic control of both houses are coming to an end Tuesday.

Even if Republicans do not win the majority in the House or the Senate, they have already gained enough seats to swing the left-resting pendulum closer to the center. With a more bipartisan Congress, will the next two years mean a stalemate in Congress?

Most of the legislation passed by Congress has been passed despite GOP resistance.

The Democratic majority Congress passed a stimulus bill with only three Republican votes.

Republicans vehemently opposed the $940 billion health care reform law, and still seek to repeal it.

The addition of 30,000 troops for the war in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of all forces from Iraq have gained great GOP opposition.

And the constant threats of terror attacks, though unsuccessful, have many Republicans voicing their opinion to increase focus on national security.

Disagreeing on almost all major issues facing the country, Congress could be headed to a two-year hiatus where tabled legislation becomes the norm.

Historically, midterm elections have gravely shaped presidential legacy.

With a majority in both houses for the first two years, the Democrats were able to, and did frequently, sidestep Republican members to single-handedly pass legislation.

This was one major criticism of the president's promised campaign goals: his failure to incorporate both parties' wishes into his legislation.

Now, with a more balanced Congress, the possibility for constant deadlock seems more than likely.

The same happened with Reagan's loss of majority in the midterm elections of '82 as well as Clinton's midterm loss in 1994; both presidents were kept at bay from completing their agendas after these congressional losses.

This midterm election, however, is unique in one way: Some of the Republican gains are Tea Party candidates, like Rand Paul in Kentucky, who do not necessarily align themselves with mainstream GOP agendas.

In fact, Paul has already declared his plan to challenge GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Paul told CNN's "American Morning," "We will challenge him from day to day, but there will be many areas in which we agree."

This challenge maybe a positive for the Obama administration, as Tea Party Republicans tend to lean less to the right, remaining more centrist. Centrist, though, still don't guarantee an acceptance of the Obama administration's agenda for the next two years.

On the other hand, no president in the past century has lost his second term after losing the majority in the midterm elections.

Whether we look at Harry Truman in 1948, Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 or Bill Clinton in 1996, all three of these presidents lost control of at least one house of Congress in the midterms, yet continued to win re-election.

Maybe this is a blessing for President Obama in the long run, even if it comes disguised in red, elephant garb.

Samreen Hooda is a senior journalism major from Dallas and a reporter for The Lariat.