Republicans strengthen House majority

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:30 a.m. EST

Republicans retained and even strengthened their solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With returns from several states out West still to be counted and a number of contests too close to call, odds are good to excellent that the current Republican majority of 241 seats to 191 for the Democrats (with three vacancies before tonight) could grow by four to ten seats.

What this means in terms of policy is that the burden of being a check on liberal Democratic policies from raising taxes to increasing the debt ceiling will still be on the shoulders of House Republicans???nearly 40 percent of whom were elected either in 2010 or last night.

Although there will be a handful of freshman GOP U.S. Representatives who are from the center of the political spectrum, the overwhelming number of Republicans elected to the House on Tuesday are decidedly conservatives and, as was the case in 2010, backed by the tea party movement.

As Human Events noted in its pre-election wrap-up, Republicans went into the House races with a strong hand largely because they had controlled so many governorships and state legislatures as to make the congressional redistricting process work to their benefit in more states than it did the Democrats. In addition, GOP candidates scored well among the 35 House seats vacated by Democratic incumbents.

Among conservatives who picked up previously Democratic-held House seats were decorated Iraqi War veteran Tom Cotton (Ark-4), former TV newscaster Jackie Walorski (Ind-2), lawyer and second time candidate Andy Barr (Ky-6), lawyer and lay Roman Catholic leader Keith Rothfus (PA-12), and North Carolina???s Republican Reps-elect Richard Hudson, George Holding, and Mark Meadows.

In districts that were newly created, or where Republicans were stepping down, there were several conservative winners who are likely to draw attention. Texan Steve Stockman, a conservative swashbuckler and born-again Christian who last served in Congress 16 years ago, came back to win a newly created — and heavily Republican — Houston-area district. Luke Messer, former state House majority leader from Indiana, made it to Congress on his third try by taking the seat Mike Pence relinquished to run successfully for governor of the Hoosier State.

As in every election, there are some sad losses conservatives must bear. Freshman firebrand Joe Walsh of Illinois, the first tea party backed Republican to win a primary in 2010, lost to Democrat Tammy Duckworth after unfavorable, Democratic-crafted redistricting. 20-year Rep. Roscoe Barlett of Maryland went down to Clinton Democrat and millionaire John Delaney.

But overall???and even before the last returns were in???it looks as though Nov. 6 was a night conservatives will cherish in terms of races for the House.