The GOP’s silver lining: Holding control of the House

November 7, 2012

With President Obama celebrating his reelection victory Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and Senate Democrats holding their majority in the upper chamber, Republicans had little to celebrate in the race for the White House and upper chamber. But in the House, their majority will be safe in the next Congress.


House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

When all the votes are tallied in all of the races across the country, Democrats will fall short of the 25 seats they needed to win back control of the House after the historic losses the party suffered in 2010. 

A new congressional map in Illinois afforded Democrats ripe pickup opportunities. They seized on the chances Tuesday, picking up four seats in the Land of Lincoln. Democrats unseated GOP Reps. Bob Dold, Judy Biggert, Joe Walsh, and Bobby Schilling. 

But Republicans largely canceled out the gains made in Illinois by notching three pickups in North Carolina, winning as expected in two open races in the 11th and 13th Districts and defeating Rep. Larry Kissell (D) in a third race the party was expected to win. 

With races still left to be called out west in California and Arizona, Democrats could still gain seats when all is said and done. They swept the New Hampshire races and even Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was in a tight race early Wednesday. Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) defied the odds in a tough district to win another term. 

But the GOP won key races, too, unseating Reps. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) and Mark Critz (D-Pa.). In Iowa, Rep. Steve King (R) turned back a strong challenge from Democrat Christie Vilsack, and Rep. Tom Latham (R) beat Rep. Leonard Boswell. 

With Obama winning four more years in the White House and Democrats holding the Senate, things may not look much different next year there than they do now. In the House, too, the status quo looked like the order of the day. On a night when there were a lot of reasons for Republican disappointment, the House was not one of them.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Aaron Blake | November 7, 2012