The Soviet media tonight described the outcome of the U.S. elections as a "vote of no confidence in the entire political program of the Reagan administration."
But despite the tone of satisfaction in which they announced a "serious defeat" of President Reagan, the Soviets seem to have found little comfort in the results.
According to well-informed political sources, the Democrats' gains were not substantial enough, from a Soviet point of view, to cripple the administration for the next two years. According to these preliminary readings, Moscow is unlikely to expect that the president will be forced to change his anti-Soviet policy.
In turn, the election results are not expected to have significant impact on a current reappraisal of Soviet foreign policy.
In a speech to the Soviet armed forces chiefs last week, President Leonid Brezhnev clearly indicated that a policy shift is planned, including a new wave of weapons modernization to counter the American arms buildup.
In a commentary on the elections, the government newspaper Izvestia said even incomplete results showed that "the overwhelming majority of American voters" favored a freeze on nuclear production and deployment.
Izvestia said the outcome showed a "discontent of the broad sections of the population" with Reagan's policies. It quoted Soviet observers as being unanimous that only a failure of the Democrats to provide an effective "alternative" economic policy prevented a larger Republican defeat.
Without such an alternative, the commentary said, the voters were left with the proposition of "choosing the lesser of the two evils."
The importance Moscow attached to the elections was reflected in the speed and detail provided by the news agency Tass in its dispatches from the United States. But the first Tass commentary focused on U.S. economic difficulties and the adverse effects of Reagan's social policies.
Izvestia said the Republican Party "had a number of major advantages" in the campaign, including greater amount of money and a deeply involved president "who made his personal prestige an issue" in the balloting.