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Republicans win control of US Senate

Incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., acknowledges supporters in Manchester, N.H. on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, after winning re-election. (AP-Yonhap)
Incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., acknowledges supporters in Manchester, N.H. on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, after winning re-election. (AP-Yonhap)
Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate, capturing seats from Democrats in elections Tuesday shaped by deep voter discontent with President Barack Obama. 

With Republicans strengthening their majority in the House of Representatives, Obama will spend his final two years as president contending with a Congress fully controlled by opponents who have been determined to block his policies. 

Republicans won at least seven seats now held by Democrats, while Democrats failed to pick up a single Republican seat. That assures the Republicans of at least 52 votes in the 100-member chamber.

They were also on track to expand their majority in the House of Representatives to near-historic levels. And they won two high-profile gubernatorial races, in Florida and Wisconsin, where Democrats thought they had a good shot at defeating the incumbents.

Among the Republicans re-elected Tuesday was the man who would likely become majority leader if the party captures the Senate: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Democrats once had high hopes of defeating him, but he pulled away in the final weeks. 

Voters are ``hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful,'' McConnell said.

The shift in control of the Senate will likely result in a strong Republican assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama's signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.

Obama's ability to win confirmation for lifetime Supreme Court and other judicial appointments could also suffer. 

Republicans were more fired up in this election, united in opposition to a president they see as pushing the government too deeply into American lives. But dissatisfaction went beyond the party. Americans tend to be disgruntled these days, seeing the economy as stagnating or growing worse and besieged by troubling news, such as the beheading of Americans by Islamic extremists and worries about Ebola. While exit polls show voters dissatisfied with Republican leaders, it's the president who gets the brunt of the blame.

Opinion polls show Obama's popularity falling and, though he wasn't on the ballot, Republicans made him the focus of their campaigns.

``I'm just waiting for him to be gone,'' said Kristi Johnson, a 36-year-old pharmacist from North Carolina.

It was bound to be a difficult election for Democrats. Governing parties historically lose seats in midterm votes and a number of Democrats were defending seats in states that lean Republican. Some were first elected to six-year terms in 2008, riding the wave of excitement over Obama's initial candidacy.

By contrast, Democratic candidates in this year's most competitive Senate races did whatever they could to distance themselves from the president. Obama largely limited his campaigning to candidates in solidly Democratic territory. In a sign of the grim outlook for Democrats, the party had to scramble in the final days to help incumbents who suddenly found themselves in danger.

Overall, at stake Tuesday were 36 of the 100 Senate seats, all 435 House districts and 36 of 50 governors' seats. (AP)

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