Evan as they were universally predicted to take over the Senate, Republicans shocked the nation Tuesday by dominating the midterm elections, squashing Democrats across the country, turning safe seats into tossups and highlighting President Obama’s unpopularity. The GOP picked up at least seven Senate seats, extended their majority in the House of Representatives and won key gubernatorial elections, including defeating incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, an Illinois Democrat.
The GOP picked up Senate seats in West Virginia, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, North Carolina, Iowa and Arkansas to give them control of the upper chamber for the first time since 2007. The Democrats’ lone swing state victory was Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election in New Hampshire. The Republicans also picked up nine seats in the House to extend their already solid majority. In Illinois, Republican businessman Bruce Rauner defeated Quinn to become the state’s next governor, even as the latest polls showed Quinn slightly ahead. Turnout in key Democratic strongholds, including downtown Chicago, lagged behind the previous election, pushing Rauner to unseat the incumbent. Quinn kept the race close even with low approval ratings, with only one in three voters approving of his job in office. Rauner, on the other hand, will become with first Republican governor of Illinois since George Ryan, who left office in 2003.
Just north of Chicago, a Republican upset another Democratic incumbent in a House race. Robert Dold, who previously represented Illinois’ tenth district, defeated Brad Schneider in a rematch of the 2012 election. Dole won with roughly 52 percent of the vote to Schneider’s 48. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, held onto to his seat, winning re-election over Republican Jim Oberweis.
Republicans also held onto two high profile governors, with Rick Scott winning re-election in Florida over Charlie Crist and Scott Walker retaining his seat in Wisconsin. In Virginia, what was through of as a safe Democratic seat turned into shockingly close race, with Democratic incumbent Mark Warner beating challenger Ed Gillespie by only 12,000 votes. Notably, Tuesday’s midterms also resulted in multiple women picking up seats, putting 100 women in the House for the first time in history.