GOP tsunami: Republicans take the Senate, win historic House gains

I’ll keep this post updated with some of the big results as they come in, and we’ll kick it off with one of the biggest: the current Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has defeated Allison Grimes in Kentucky.  The funny thing is that everyone is calling McConnell’s win “unsurprising” and “expected” now, but he was supposed to be one of the more nervous Republican incumbents going into the night.  McConnell’s win looks huge; there’s a lot of counting left to be done, but he was up 14 points when the race was called.

South Carolina: Incumbent Senator Tim Scott, appointed to his seat after Senator Jim DeMint retired, has won re-election, becoming the first African American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction.

Virginia: After rumblings of a possible upset brewing for Republican Ed Gillespie, the race looks to be going to Democrat incumbent Mark Warner.  West Virginia, on the other hand, became the first Republican pickup of the night for Senator-Elect Shelley Moore Capito.  This wasn’t a surprise, as she was up by double digits going into Election Day.

(Actually, as of 7:30 PM, I’m not sure if Virginia is really over yet.  Interest fact coming across the wires: Republican Ed Gillespie has a tremendous 58% favorable rating in exit polls.  That’s the kind of rating that could still produce a shocker.)

New Jersey: There was a bit of light speculation that Democrat Cory Booker might be in trouble, but the polls were never really all that close.  Booker is projected to win re-election.

Mississippi: Given all the drama that accompanied his very tight primary win, it is worth noting that Republican Senator Thad Cochran has won re-election for his 412th term.

Arkansas: The polls showed this a likely Republican pickup, and Tom Cotton did indeed defeat incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor.  That’s the second GOP pickup of the night.

New Hampshire: Scott Brown gave Jeanne Shaheen a good run for her money, but it looks like the incumbent Democrat will retain her seat.

South Dakota: After a brief spasm of Democrat interest in Mike Rounds as a potentially vulnerable Republican, he went on to win his race.  That’s GOP pickup number 3.  I’ll always remember the “Mike Rounds is in trouble” boomlet.  It was a hell of an afternoon.

As of 9PM, the Virginia race was down to a few hundred votes, Thom Tillis had closed to within one point of Kay Hagan in North Carolina, and there were rumblings of Pat Roberts in Kansas looking good against fake “independent” Greg Orman.  It seems like only yesterday liberal pundits were declaring this a boring election.

Louisiana: It looks like the election will head into a runoff between Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy, where Cassidy is favored to win.

Colorado: Republican Cory Gardner wins, aborting the political career of Mark Udall.  GOP pickup number 4.

Montana: Steve Daines, a heavy favorite going into Election Day, becomes Republican pickup number 5.

Kansas: The night kicked into high gear when Republican incumbent Pat Roberts unexpectedly defeated fake “independent” Greg Orman, with some credit quite possibly due to a last-minute air campaign capitalizing on Vice President Joe Biden claiming that Orman would caucus with the Democrats.  Well done, Joe.

Iowa: Joni Ernst picked up the seat vacated by sexist dinosaur Tom Harkin, defeating Bruce Whossisname.

Georgia: A somewhat surprising win outside the margin of runoff for Republican David Perdue.  He was favored to win the runoff against Democrat Michelle Nunn, but he won outright on Tuesday night.  With that hope of a Democrat pickup dashed, control of the Senate passed to the Republicans.

North Carolina: Holy cow… after an intense nail-biter of a night, Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Kay Hagan to make it a Republican pickup.  You could hear Democrat jaws hitting the floor from coast to coast.  They really thought they had this one.

Coming up on midnight, and still no official call in Virginia.  Could this really happen for Gillespie?

A brief digression from the Senate contest: Republican governors won huge victories tonight as well, albeit with a couple of hair-raising close calls, such as Rick Scott hanging on in Florida.  Scott Walker won in Wisconsin, which means he’ll have been elected about fourteen times to serve two terms.  Amazingly, Republican Bruce Rauner ousted Pat Quinn in Illinois, and Charlie Baker pulled off a razor-thin win over Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.  Nathan Deal won in Georgia outside the recount margin, defeating Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason.  A close race in Maryland turned into a surprisingly solid win for Republican Larry Hogan.  Sam Brownback, supposedly followed everywhere he went by a cloud of vultures waiting to feast upon his bones, came back in Kansas for the win.  Just about the only Republican to lose a high-profile race on Tuesday night was Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, defeated by Tom Wolf.

As for the House of Representatives… the Republicans are making history there, too.  A six to twelve seat pickup was projected, but it looks like they’ll net 15 or more, bringing them the largest House majority since the 1920s.  A sweet little House grace note on the Senate victories: defeated Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley lost his House seat to Republican Rod Blum as well.  Texas Republicans are also celebrating taking the state Senate seat formerly held by Wendy Davis with Tea Party candidate Konni Burton.

Virginia: After a long night of counting, the race is still “too close to call,” and will probably end up with a recount.  NBC News thinks Democrat Mark Warner ended the night slightly ahead.

Alaska: Chugging in late from a far-distant time zone, another closely-watched race yielded a Republican victory for Dan Sullivan over Democrat Mark Begich.  Sullivan looks to have won by a little over 3 points.  The race had not been officially called on Wednesday morning, as Begich refuses to concede.

Another shocker in a night full of them: the Vermont gubernatorial race ended in a deadlock between incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne.  Under the peculiar rules set by the state Constitution, the winner will now be chosen by a dance-off.  No, wait, I’m thinking of somewhere else… in Vermont, it’s done by a vote of the state legislature.  That’s happened before in Vermont – Shumlin actually entered the governor’s mansion on a legislature vote in 2010 – but it wasn’t supposed to happen Tuesday night.  Shumlin finished Tuesday night with more votes, so he is expected to win the tie-breaker vote and retain his seat.

Totals: On Wednesday morning, the official totals stood at 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats in the Senate, a net gain of 8 seats for the GOP.  That’s the high end of predictions for what the GOP could accomplish in the Senate midterms, and they’re not done yet – Cassidy will probably win the Louisiana runoff, and Virginia will probably still hang in the balance for a while.

The House stands at 247-183, a net Republican pickup of 14 seats, well beyond what analysts expected.  A few races in Arizona and California were not called on Tuesday night.

There are now 31 Republican governors versus 17 Democrats, with Vermont headed into Legislature deathmatch and Alaska still being counted (if Republican Sean Parnell loses, it will be to independent Bill Walker.)  That’s a net gain of four governorships for the GOP.

In addition to the races that are still in doubt, it’s time to talk about a few party flips.  Independent Senator Angus King of Maine immediately offered to caucus with the victorious Republicans.  Hopefully McConnell is shrewd enough to pick up his vote at a discount.

So… how are you liking that Democrat Party these days, Joe Manchin of West Virginia?  “The people are speaking loud and clear.  They don’t like what they’re seeing.  I don’t like what I’ve been involved with in the last four years, and I’ve been very vocal about that,” he said ominously last night, as he watched himself fade into irrelevance next to the atomic fireworks of the new Republican superstar, Senator-elect Shelley Moore Capito.  If you looked hard at Manchin, you could see bits of the MSNBC stage through him as he ghosted out.

There’s only one way to be important again, Joe, and I think we all know what it is.  Governor-elect Larry Hogan and his supporters were dancing with “martini glasses in one hand, and iPhones in the other” last night.  We have martinis, Joe.

An especially bright spot for conservatives watching the House races was the victory of Mia Love in Utah.  As the Washington Post notes, she is “the first black Republican woman -and first Haitian-American – elected to congress.”

The Post also declared that “in a wave election less about fresh Republican ideas than fervid disapproval of all things presidential, Love’s compelling personal story is an oasis.  She’s not just a black face in what’s often described as a party full of angry old white men.  She’s a path forward.”  Try saying that to Mia Love’s face and see what happens to you, Posties.  For added fun, run that wheezy Democrat tripe about a party of angry old white men past Love while Senators-elect Tim Scott, Joni Ernst, and Shelley Moore Capito are within earshot.