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Voters delivered an epic victory to Republicans and a stinging defeat to Democrats in midterm elections Tuesday, handing the GOP an avalanche of pickups in the House the likes of which has not been seen in more than half a century.
Republicans were on their way to gaining around 60 seats in the House, and had made huge advances in the Senate as well. GOP candidates also won big in governors races and state legislatures across the country.
The consolations for Democrats were few: they retained control of the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held on to his Nevada Senate seat, and Democrats won a few House races that were thought to be in danger.
The House currently has 255 Democrats and 178 Republicans. The new reality will be a Republican majority of between 236 and 240, and a Democratic minority below 200.
The GOP House gains were the biggest swing for either party since 1948, when Democrats gained 75 seats on the back of President Truman’s campaign against a “do-nothing” GOP Congress.
The last time such a large swing occurred in a midterm election was in 1938, when Democrats lost 72 seats to Republicans in the middle of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt s second term, as voters lost confidence in the New Deal.
In the Senate Tuesday, Republicans picked up seats in Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania. They were on pace to win in North Dakota as well, and the Colorado race was too close to call, with Republican Ken Buck holding a lead of a few hundred votes.
The total pickup for the GOP in the Senate was set to be between 6 and 8 seats, depending on the outcomes in Colorado, Washington and Alaska. The latter two may not be decided for days.
Republicans also won a key gubernatorial race in Ohio and looked likely to win in Florida, both contests that President Obama and Democrats badly wanted to win. And 17 separate state chambers flipped from Democrat to Republican, in the latest count.
Republicans, however, said they were not celebrating.
“We’ve got real work to do, and frankly this is not a time for celebration, not when one out of 10 of our fellow citizens is out of work,” said John Boehner, the Ohio Republican who is set to become the next Speaker of the House.
Boehner said “our new majority will be prepared to do things differently,” saying they will cut spending instead of increasing it, which will be a much easier promise to make than it will be to fulfill.
And Boehner sought immediately to prevent Obama and the White House from sticking the new House Republican majority with full responsibility for the ship of state.
“We must remember it’s the president who sets the agenda,” Boehner said. The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight, and that message is, ‘Change course.'”
Obama called Boehner around midnight “to congratulate him,” according to Boehner’s office.
“They had a brief but pleasant conversation. Leader Boehner said he’s always been straightforward and honest with the president in the past, and said that’s the way he’ll continue to be with the president in the future. They discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending,” Boehner’s office said.
Republicans captured Democratic governorships in at least 10 states on Tuesday, including some prime presidential battlegrounds, and hoped for even more statehouse gains.
Changing hands in the GOP onslaught: governorships now held by Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Republican legislators have captured at least 16 chambers of state governments, electoral victories which will prove crucial to the redistricting efforts next year that will draw the maps for Congressional races over the next decade.
In New Hampshire, North Carolina, Alabama and Wisconsin, Republicans captured both the state House and Senate.
Oklahoma is to become the first state in the U.S. to ban Islamic sharia law. That’s the result of a voter initiative that passed by a heavy majority in the midterm election on Tuesday night.
State Question 755 amends the Oklahoma constitution to forbid courts in Oklahoma from considering sharia law or international law in reaching their decisions. More than 70% of voters approved the measure.
Voters in Maine’s largest city have rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
Supporters said it was only fair that immigrants who are not yet citizens be allowed to vote because they pay taxes, send their children to public schools and even serve in the military.
The dollar is in danger of losing 20% of its value over the next few years if the Federal Reserve continues unconventional monetary easing, Bill Gross, the manager of the world’s largest mutual fund, said on Monday.
“I think a 20% decline in the dollar is possible,” Gross said, adding the pace of the decline was also an important consideration for investors.
Terrorists unleashed a wave of deadly attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 113 people in Shiite neighborhoods in an apparent bid to provoke a new sectarian war in the country.
Seventeen car bombs and other blasts shook the city at sunset in one of the bloodiest days this year. The coordinated attacks came just 48 hours after 58 people were killed after armed men seized a Baghdad church.
French media are describing as a “miracle” the unscathed survival of an 18-month-old girl who fell from a sixth-floor apartment.
The girl was left unattended by her parents when she somehow fell, then bounced off the awning of a cafe below. She had a further stroke of luck when a passing doctor saw her fall and caught her before she hit the ground, witnesses were quoted as saying.
A crater some 65 feet (20 meters) deep has opened up in a residential area of an eastern German town – swallowing a car and a garage door but causing no injuries.
Emergency services were called to the scene in Schmalkalden at about 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday by a resident who reported hearing unusual noises. Six houses and 25 people were evacuated.
A Swedish man was acquitted of drink driving after a court said it couldn’t rule out the possibility he was sleepwalking. The 51-year-old man, who was not identified, had a blood alcohol level nearly 10 times the country’s legal limit.
The man said he awoke late one evening in the driver’s seat of his car, which had catapulted into a ditch in Karlskrona.
Police say a bank robber forgot to set up a getaway ride, so he offered $1,000 to people on the street for a lift after the heist.
Capitola police said a man in his 40s or 50s entered a bank at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday and ordered $20 and $100 bills from the teller. Police said the man then jumped onto the counter, pushed the teller and grabbed money from the till.
A 42-year-old Vancouver woman visiting her terminally ill son at a Pittsburgh hospital was jailed after she allegedly disconnected his intravenous line feeding him sedatives and injected herself with with the drug.
Karen Remsing was visiting her son at UPMC Children’s Hospital when she disconnected his sedative line and began filling hypodermic needles out of the tube.