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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The national election Tuesday was not only historic for the election of the first African-American president in the nation’s history but also for how little the avalanche of Democratic votes changed the political alignment in Congress.
The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt won his second term for president in 1936, the defeated Republican candidate, Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas, won only two states, Maine and Vermont, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by wide margins.
But Obama’s win was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.
The Democrats fell several votes short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof Senate that they were seeking and also failed to get rid of a key Senate target: Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Republicans, though discouraged by the election’s outcome, believe Obama will be hard-pressed not so much to enact his agenda but to keep his popular majority, which he considers centrist, as he moves to enact ultra-liberal legislation, particularly the demands of organized labor.