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The GOP's big night
Tracking the key reactions to the election results from top pundits, TV commentators, bloggers, and the social networks
 
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul celebrates his Kentucky Senate seat victory with his wife, son, and supporters at an election night party.
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul celebrates his Kentucky Senate seat victory with his wife, son, and supporters at an election night party.
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The midterm elections "bloodbath" that was so widely predicted indeed came to pass, with Republicans making massive gains in the House. Although the Democrats managed to hold onto the Senate, several key races were nail-biters. Here's how the evening unfolded, as live-blogged by The Week:

6:53 a.m. How did Harry Reid manage to keep his seat? It didn't hurt that he won 90 percent of the Latino vote. "He better learn to say 'muchas gracias,'" Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart told Brian Williams on NBC.

5:35 a.m. In Alaska, "Write-ins" have a five-point lead over Tea Party Republican Joe Miller, but just "how many of those write-ins will eventually be deemed legal ballots for Lisa Murkowski is the question," says FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver. Silver also sees cautiously good news for Democratic Senate incumbents Patty Murray in Washington and Michael Bennet in Colorado, based on which counties have counted votes so far. In an "amazing result for Republicans," though, Silver projects a pickup of 65 House seats, for 243 seats.

3:16 a.m. How to explain the Republicans' spectacular night, and the Democrats' lousy one? Take your pick: It was a "no-confidence vote for Obama," says The Washington Post's Richard Cohen, since a "landslide" 61 percent of voters in exit polls said the country is on the wrong track. Pointing to the same exit polls, Cohen's Post colleague Stephen Stromberg says no, it was all about the economy, with 62 percent listing that as their top concern. "House Republicans got the car keys back, says Slate's John Dickerson, but "the exit polls suggested the country threw them at the GOP in disgust: Here, you drive," not out of affection for our "new co-leaders of American politics."

2:46 a.m. On the House side, the Republican wave "has been an incredibly orderly one," says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, with just a few surprises and no real big-name Democrats unexpectedly unseated — GOP targets Barney Frank (Mass.), John Dingell (Mich.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), and Raúl M. Grijalva (Arizona) are all keeping their seats, for example. "For the time being, the biggest Republican upset is ... Michael McMahon of Staten Island?"

2:29 a.m. At this point, the only Senate races up in the air are Washington state, Colorado, and Alaska, with "write-ins" the current frontrunner in Alaska (presumably incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican), Sen. Patty Murray has a narrow lead over Republican Dino Rossi in Washington, and Republican Ken Buck and Sen. Michael Bennet (D) are essentially tied in Colorado.

1:48 a.m. In one high-profile gubernatorial race, California's Jerry Brown (D) becomes the oldest governor elected in state history, at age 72, after already holding the distinction of being its youngest elected governor, at age 36 in 1974. His opponent, ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R), spent more than $160 million, $141.5 million of it from her own bank account, making her tonight's "prime example — but not the only one — that money, for all its power in politics, is not always the answer when it comes to getting elected," says Michael Sheer in The New York Times. "Whitman discovered the position of governor does not have a 'Buy It Now' option," tweets comedian Brian Lynch.

1:22 a.m. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is keeping his seat, and the Democrats are keeping control of the Senate, The New York Times predicts. California's marijuana-legalizing Proposition 19, on the other hand, goes down to defeat.

12:01 a.m. The Week's liveblog is taking an hour's break or so before continuing again. The New York Times is now reporting that Toomey will defeat Sestak in Pennsylvania, while Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina have been defeated in the California gubernatorial and Senate races. CNN is now predicting Democrats will retain control of the Senate. But will Harry Reid survive to lead it? Find out, back here, in an hour's time.

11:52 p.m. John Boehner delivers a passionate, sometimes emotional speech from the Republican Party HQ. "It's clear tonight who the winners really are, and that's the American people," he says. "But frankly, this is not a time for celebration. It's a time to roll up our sleeves and get to work." The new speaker of the House becomes emotional when describing his route to where he is now. "I've spent my whole life chasing the American dream," he says, choking back tears, before thanking his family. "Get used to those tears, folks," says ABC's Jake Tapper. "He's a crier."

11.40 p.m Alvin Greene has reacted to his loss to Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina with a single word, posted on his Twitter account: "RECOUNT"

11:38 p.m. Discussion on Fox News turns to the health-care bill, and what the GOP majority will do with it. "We all know now that Obama can defend his health-care bill with a veto," says Brit Hume. "But if that comes, how many Democrats will want to stand with him, I wonder?"

11:34 p.m. Some more good news for Republicans. The GOP is now looking at a "54 to 75" seat gain in the House, and Pat Toomey now has "the advantage" in the "too close to call" Pennsylvania Senate race, says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. It's not all bad for the Democrats; Harry Reid is now pulling ahead of Sharron Angle in Nevada, according to CNN. "We're not ready to make any predictions," says Wolf Blitzer.

11:27 p.m. "I have not heard the word recount all night... but the night is young," says The New York Times' David Carr on Twitter.

11:22 p.m. Some other races you may have missed: Democrat Barney Frank kept hold of his Massachusets seat, while Andrew Cuomo comfortably beat Republican challenger and Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino in the New York governor's race. "Carl Paladino's campaign not to be elected governor has succeeded," jokes Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

11: 16 p.m. In case you missed it, here is Chris Matthews' interview with a "hypnotized" Michele Bachmann. "Not sure why the Bachmann people agreed to this," says Alex Pareene at Salon. Watch it here:


11:10 p.m. "Lesson on Feingold loss: Vote for bailouts?" asks Brian Beutler on Twitter. The defeated Wisconsin senator had voted against the TARP bailouts. "No," responds Chris Hayes of The Nation. "Lesson is 'votes don't matter.' Which is a bit unnerving."

11:08 p.m. A slew of results comes in after 11 p.m. poll closures. Republican Nikki Haley has won the close gubernatorial race in South Carolina, while early California polling favors both Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. Success for Boxer would mean the Democrats are guaranteed to keep the Senate, notes Slate's Dave Weigel.

11:01 p.m. Tea Party–backed Ron Johnson defeats Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin's Senate race, reports Fox News, delivering a surprise Tea Party victory in the upper chamber. He's the "star of the night," says a Fox News presenter. Actually, this loss will be painful "for a lot of liberals and a big chunk of libertarians too," says Jim Newell at Gawker. 11 p.m. exit polls on the way... .

10:55 p.m. How will Barack Obama respond to this evening's disastrous results, asks Michael Crowley at Time. "How much humility will he show, how much will he promise cooperation versus standing his ground?" Will he act like Clinton and embrace the center? Nah, says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. Obama will seek to transcend left-right dynamics and meet the GOP on some "ideologically undefined but temperamentally soothing common ground." It won't matter. This time next year, "they're going to be at war."

10:50 p.m. The Chicago Tribune has also weighed in on the results. Democratic senators will now be "nervous about advancing President Obama's agenda as their own re-election battles come into view as early as 2012. Similarly, moderate Republicans will be less likely to cooperate across party lines for fear of primary challenges from conservatives unwilling to compromise."

10:47 p.m. The New York Times has already published tomorrow's op-ed on the elections. "The punishing rebuke delivered by voters in House races on Tuesday effectively put an end to [President Obama's] transformational ambitions and left him searching for a way forward with a more circumscribed horizon of possibilities," writes the Gray Lady. "Facing a hostile House with subpoena power, he will have to figure out the right blend of conciliation and confrontation to reassert authority and avoid defeat in 2012."

10:39 p.m. It's looking like Democrats will retain the Senate, says Rachael Larimore at Slate's Double X blog. And it's all the Tea Party's fault. "O’Donnell's huge loss should serve as a cautionary tale." Getting candidates nominated is one thing, but you have to make sure their views "align with those of their entire district or state, not just those who vote in primaries."

10:34 p.m. Former GOP leader Dick Armey has admitted to being "very distressed" over the Pennsylvania Senate race, reports The Daily Caller, where returns show Republican Pat Toomey trailing Democrat Joe Sestak.

10:28 p.m. The Washington Post has posted a video of Marco Rubio's acceptance speech, which is sure to make headlines tomorrow.

10:24 p.m. Chris Matthews has had an uncomfortable exchange with Michele Bachmann. "Are you hypnotized tonight," the MSNBC host asked the Minnesota congresswoman. "Because no matter what question I ask you, you give the same answer." He later added, "She seems to be in a trance." "It was not clear that he was joking," tweets Arianna Huffington.

10:20 p.m. Salon's Alex Pareene muses: "The part of Election Day where no one has any idea what's happening is coming to an end," he says. "Soon comes the part where people say incredibly stupid things about what just happened."

10:14 p.m. "One of the most hailed stars of the Republican party is struggling tonight," says Michael Shear at The New York Times. Nikki Haley, the Republican candidate for governor in South Carolina, is leading Democrat Vincent Sheheen by "just one point." If she loses, it will be a blow to Sarah Palin. Haley, like O'Donnell, was one of the Alaskan conservative's Mama Grizzlies. Also in South Carolina, Jim DeMint reveals his defeated opponent Alvin Greene won 29 percent of the vote in the Senate race.

10:06 p.m. NBC projects GOP will win a 45-seat majority in the House. No big surprises from the 10 p.m. Senate projections — John McCain wins back his Arizona seat, as does Iowa's Chuck Grassley. A CNN raw exit poll gives Reid the edge over Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race, but it's still far too close to call.

9:55 p.m. Conservatives are continuing to celebrate predicted House win. "Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female ex-speaker of the House," tweets the National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru. "The gavel will be in Republican hands again," says Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit. The top of the hour will bring more predictions....

9:49 p.m. Marco Rubio's heartfelt acceptance speech in Florida has the pundits cooing. "Man, he's smooth," says The Guardian's Richard Adams. "Bill Clinton smooth." The newly elected senator is one to watch in 2012, says Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch. "He's a superstar."

9:43 p.m. "Get your popcorn," says Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Christine O'Donnell is giving her concession speech. The failed Senate candidate declares that she will use her new status to ensure the "death tax" is not brought back in 2011, before telling her supporters to "party." "Christine O'Donnell continues to delight," says NPR's Kurt Andersen, on Twitter.

9:39 p.m. "Democrats are getting killed with white voters," says John Dickerson at Slate. "In 2006 Democrats lost the white vote by four percentage points. In exit polls tonight, Democrats are losing white voters by 60 percent to 38 percent."

9:34 p.m. Discussion on MSNBC about how Rand Paul would use the filibuster to block raising the debt ceiling in 2011 and freeze up global markets. That would be a "doomsday scenario for this country and the world," says Lawrence O'Donnell.

9:29 p.m. "Pop the champagne!" says Allahpundit at Hot Air. The "GOP takeover" is all but confirmed. Now that a Senate victory is "out of reach," the rest of the night is about revenge. "Reid is public enemy No. 1, [California Sen. Barbara] Boxer No. 2," and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska No. 3.

9:24 p.m. Fox News is projecting the Republicans will gain 60 seats in the House. Sarah Palin comes on to credit the Tea Party for the victory. "The GOP establishment is learning a lesson," says the Alaskan conservative. "I think there's a lot of humbleness that will be made manifest on either side of the aisle."

9:20 p.m. CNN officially predicts the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives, with "at least 50 seats." Comment to come....

9:10 p.m. Rand Paul is giving his victory speech. "I have a message from the people of Kentucky," says the jubilant candidate, "a message that is loud and clear. We've come to take our government back!" He goes on: "Tonight, there's a Tea Party tidal wave coming!"

9:02 p.m. The GOP has now gained five House seats, reports NPR, and needs 34 to gain a majority in the House of Representatives. That's looking increasingly likely, says The Guardian's Richard Adams. "There's a world of pain for the Democrats and joy for the GOP" just round the corner.

8:59 p.m. Baron Hill, a "bellwether" congressman from Indiana, has lost his seat to Republican challenger Todd Young, reports Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. "This result tracks with Republicans taking control of the House by the end of the evening."

8:54 p.m. Pundits on Twitter are joking that progressive Alan Grayson will get a new job presenting a show on cable news. "The countdown is on for Alan Grayson to get an MSNBC contract," says Salon's Steve Kornacki. "O'Donnell/Grayson to replace Parker/Spitzer?" adds Ben Smith at Politico.

8:52 p.m. Conservatives will not miss Alan Grayson. He's a "low life," says Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. It just doesn't get "lower than this — except for criminals." But it's not all good news, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "Fox and ABC are both calling West Virginia for Manchin. You can forget the Senate majority now."

8:43 p.m. CBS News now says Perriello has lost his congressional seat. Also, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Alan Grayson, the Democrat who famously said that "Republicans want you to die quickly" has lost his congressional race in Florida. CNN is having audio problems trying to interview GOP chairman Michael Steele.

8:37 p.m. Virginia House Democrats Tom Perriello and Horace Nye are "both behind" in their congressional races, says The Nation's Chris Hayes at his Twitter feed. "Took basically opposite approaches to being a Democrat in a contested seat and looks like it might not matter." Meanwhile, CNN reports that Republican John Boozman has won Blanche Lincoln's Senate seat in Arkansas.

8:31 p.m. "Vietnam War fakers everywhere are celebrating... Richard Blumenthal’s projected victory," says Michelle Malkin at her blog, in reference to the Democrat's misstatement of his war record.

8:25 p.m. Rubio's win was down to independent voters, says Rebecca Sinderland at CNN, 48 percent of whom flocked to him due to his "small-government message." As many as seven in 10 voters told exit pollsters in Florida that "government's not working."

8:20 p.m. "This is about President Obama tonight," says Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "The big question is Reid. If he gets re-elected, Obama is okay. If he loses, Obama is adrift." Meanwhile, Christine O'Donnell's campaign staff appear to be unaware of her loss when CNN reports live from Delaware.

8:16 p.m. "That was quick," says Kevin Derby at Sunshine State News of the declaration of Marco Rubio's win in Florida senate race. No one was expecting a result here until well after the polls closed. Fox News is also calling the Connecticut Senate race for Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal.

8:08 p.m. "Breaking," says Slate's Dave Weigel on his Twitter feed. "You lose U.S. Senate race in Delaware." That's a reference to Christine "I'm you" O'Donnell, who has lost her battle with Democratic opponent Chris Coons. "Crowd quite pleased" in Florida at Rubio's win, says The Daily Telegraph's Jon Swaine, reporting from the Sunshine State via his Twitter feed. More comment on Rubio's victory on the way.

8:03 p.m. CNN is calling victory for Chris Coons in Delaware, and Marco Rubio in Florida senate race... comment to come....

8:02 p.m. Michael Bennet appears on MSNBC to tell them he's "winning" in the Colorado Senate race. "Who's your hero?" anchor Chris Matthews asks. "Abraham Lincoln," replies Bennet. "That's safe," Matthews says. "It seems appropriate for events of the last several months," says the Democrat.

7:58 p.m. In case you were thinking it's all good news for Democrats, The Drudge Report says a GOP "pick up of 50+" could be on the cards. "That's the floor," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "Where's the ceiling?"

7:50 p.m. It could be a "relatively good night for Democrats in the Senate," says The Daily Beast, if exit polls are to be believed. On top of Joe Manchin, Richard Blumenthal is looking good in Connecticut, Patty Murray is up in Washington, and Michael Bennet has a slight lead in Colorado. "Take it for what it's worth."

7:43 p.m. "If Manchin wins," tweets Mark Murray at NBC, "you can pretty much bet that Dems will hold the Senate."

7:40 p.m. Democrat candidate Joe Manchin is leading Republican opponent John Raese 52-45 according to raw exit poll data from West Virginia, reports CNN. Eliot Spitzer tells viewers Manchin wouldn't be an asset to the Democrats, as he has run on an outright anti-Obama platform. CNN should consider that raw exit polls are like sniffing glue, comments Richard Adams at The Guardian. "Dangerous stuff but cheap kicks for a while."

7:29 p.m. ABC's pundits discuss Obama, who is said to be "serene" at home in the White House. Isn't it looking like a referendum on Obama? asks Diane Sawyer. "Boy, it's starting to look like it," says George Stephanapoulous. The president will speak at 1 p.m. tomorrow and is expected to to "put the ball back in the GOP court."

7:25 p.m. Results so far don't indicate much, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. "We haven't seen anything yet that gives us a clear read of what's happening tonight. Frankly, not really anything that's been particularly surprising."

7:17 p.m. More comment on Rand Paul's win in Kentucky. It's "costly" for the GOP, tweets Newsweek. "They keep a seat they held and gain a senator who's promised to challenge leadership." Meanwhile, "joke candidate" Alvin Greene has lost his bid to unseat Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

7:06 p.m. Both CNN and Fox News are calling it for Rand Paul. "That's the first Tea Party win of the night," says Richard Adams at The Guardian. "But don't forget it was a Republican seat already so no change overall." But Dan Coats has also taken the Indiana Senate seat from the Democrats, according to Fox News.

6:58 p.m. The Associated Press says Republicans have won the first three Congressional races of the evening — Hal Rogers in Kentucky, and Mike Pence and Dan Burton in Indiana. "All were overwhelming favorites," says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, "but Republicans are up 3-0 so far."

6:49 p.m. Most early predictions have Rand Paul surging ahead of Jack Conway in the Kentucky Senate race. The Drudge Report has the Libertarian candidate winning 55-44, while CNN gives him an early lead of 58-42 after 1 percent of the votes have been counted. But "it is still way too early to determine a possible winner since 99% of the votes have not yet been reported," says Adam Ellis at The News of Today.

6:30 p.m. The first exit polls are in, reports The Drudge Report.  Republicans are predicted to win Senate victories in Arkansas, Ohio, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. But it might be best to "mostly ignore" these early numbers, says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. "Early exit polls are not intended to be taken at face value and can even be rather misleading."

6:20 p.m. "Early exits have dead heat in #nvsen," says Slate's Dave Weigel on his Twitter feed. Polls will close in Nevada at 10 p.m. EST, but the result of Harry Reid and Sharron Angle's race may be too close to call until early tomorrow morning.

6:14 p.m. "It's in the voters' hands now," says Nancy Cordes at CBS News. There are "two key numbers" in the race for control of Congress: "10 and 39." Republicans need to win 10 extra seats for a majority in the Senate, and 39 to control the House of Representatives. A "win of epic proportion" would see them win 60 or more seats from their Democrat opponents.

6:00 p.m. Polls have closed in Kentucky and Indiana. First exit polls should be out soon.

5:36 p.m. With just under half an hour until the first polls close, news comes that the turnout in Delaware has been lower than the Democrats are "comfortable with." That potentially means that GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell — well behind in most recent polls — could still stand a chance against opponent Chris Coons. This has to be a bad omen for the Democrats, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. If she actually wins, "the mythic GOP super-wave really might be on its way.

 

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