By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
- IT ENDED WHERE IT BEGAN - and at several key check-in points along the way. ABC's RICK KLEIN: The breadth of Democratic losses last night was staggering. Anti-incumbent sentiments solidified into an anti-Democratic wave, perhaps as big a wave as can develop in a midterm year in a nation that's already sorted into political silos. True enough to President Obama's vision, the wave did not see red states or blue states - just a sea of electoral opportunities. It was an almost mirror-image reversal of the way Obama remade the map just six short years ago. Adding insults to the considerable political injuries, Democrats lost Senate seats in both states (Colorado and North Carolina) that Obama accepted presidential nominations in.
- THE SENATE MAJORITY-MAKER CAME IN THE STATE THAT BURST HIM ON TO THE NATIONAL LANDSCAPE - IOWA, KLEIN NOTES: The Democratic governor in the president's home state (Illinois) went down. Democratic stirrings in the state Obama's mother called home (Kansas) were similarly snuffed out. Democrats also lost gubernatorial races in big presidential battleground states (Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan), in deep-blue New England (Massachusetts and Maine), and even - improbably - in Maryland, where Michelle Obama sought to use her political capital in a last-minute bid to save an African-American Democrat. The discussion will turn not to how Obama has remade America's politics, but to how he has damaged his party's political brand. That's an astounding turn of events, even if the country is hardly embracing any alternatives. ABC's JON KARL reviews the big winners in this year's election. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1pkZmgK
- YOU GOTTA MAKE A CHOICE, RAND PAUL: In a night of few bright spots for Democrats, perhaps a rare one can be found in Frankfort, Ky., ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. Even though Sen. Mitch McConnell won by a whopping 15 points, Democrats still managed to keep their grip on the Kentucky House of Representatives. Republicans haven't controlled the chamber since 1921 and even a roaring national GOP wave couldn't deliver the party a majority. Why does it matter to Sen. Rand Paul? A Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from seeking two federal offices at the same time. In Paul's case, that's president and Senate. So if he decides to make a run for the White House, he can't hedge his bets by running for re-election to the Senate at the same time. If Republicans had won control of the Kentucky House, they were likely to change that law, but with a 54-46 Democratic majority, Paul will have a decision to make about 2016.
- HAPPENING TODAY: In the afternoon, at 2:50 p.m. Eastern, President Obama will hold a press conference. Sen. Mitch McConnell holds a news conference at 2 p.m. Eastern at the University of Louisville. In his victory speech last night, he said: "Just because we have a two-party system, doesn't mean we have to be in perpetual conflict." He told ABC's JEFF ZELENY on the eve of the election that his party must be "a responsible governing Republican majority."
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Just like that, we go from what President Obama built to what damage he's done. The same national sentiments that ushered the Obama era in - the ability to think and react not as red and blue states - ushered in the end of this period of Democratic congressional control. It all happened with painful symbolic resonance; states that powered the president's rise (Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado) provided the final, brutal cuts, and his home state and base (Illinois) brought an exclamation point on a harsh sentence. It's tempting to lay it all at Obama's feet, as many of his fellow Democrats are already starting to do. But a broader trend is at work here. So long as this is an anxious nation, beset by fears domestic and foreign, it's hard to imagine any party or any leader having more than a temporary hold on power. Obama didn't change America so much as he tapped into the desire for change. We now know the beginning of the next chapter.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: A rout, a wave, a shellacking, or a thumping, whichever way you want to phrase it, it was a terrible night for Democrats. Not only did the GOP take the Senate with at least one race to spare, they picked up gubernatorial wins in the bluest of blue states including Massachusetts and Maryland and Republicans now have the largest majority in the House since World War II. It a was a historic night for the GOP and a brutal reality Democrats are waking up to, but what happens next? We will get a clue later today when the president holds a press conference this afternoon. Will he speak of compromise and the reality that to get anything done and prevent more gridlock voters detest, both sides must come together? Even if he does, will Republicans sit at the table after victories they will interpret as a mandate? We shall see. I joined ABC's "America This Morning" to discuss the election results: http://abcn.ws/10uAKWR
ABC's JEFF ZELENY: Republicans earned the right to gloat after delivering a walloping defeat to Democrats across the country and up and down the ballot, from statehouses to the Capitol. But Republican leaders at the highest level of the party admonished their rank-and-file to keep their bluster in check, mindful that any mandate from the midterm election was not for Republicans, but for a change in how Washington does business. The Constitution says President Obama has two more years in office, so the only option available to voters was sending a thumbs-down message to his Democratic Party. The burden of governing now equally belongs to Republicans. The frigid relationship between the White House and GOP Congressional leaders might suggest that any optimism is ill-founded, but the newly-elected Republicans heading to Washington know that voters are frustrated, fed up and willing to throw them out of office, too, if they don't at least try to make the government competent and functional once again.
ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: The 2012 Senate campaign brought us Ted Cruz, but last night's election gave us a trio of Senate candidates who could really shake things up in the next Congress. First on that list is Joni Ernst, 44, who possesses a strong personality and has no qualms about her goal to make DC "squeal." In August, she told Jeff Zeleny there isn't one senator she wants to model herself after, but instead she hopes aspiring lawmakers will model themselves after her. Then there's 37-year-old Tom Cotton, who boasts a military track record that will likely make him a strong presence on national security issues. And finally, there is 40 year old Cory Gardner, the telegenic father of two who eked out a victory in a state that has voted blue in recent years.
-A FRESH BLAST OF DISCONTENT RESHAPES THE POLITICAL ORDER. Analysis by ABC's GARY LANGER, GREGORY HOLYK, JULIE PHELAN, RYAN STRUYK, DAMLA ERGUN, CHRISTOPHER WEISS AND BRIAN HARTMAN: A fresh blast of public discontent reshaped American politics yet again in the 2014 midterm elections, handing the Republican Party control of the Senate and its largest house majority in 86 years. Its source: Seemingly unending economic woe - and the political discord it fuels. Seven long years after the economy tanked, 70 percent of voters Tuesday said it's still in bad shape. Seventy-eight percent said they're worried about its direction in the year ahead. Only three in 10 said their own economic situation has improved in the last two years. And nearly half of voters said they expect life for the next generation of Americans to be worse - by far the most to say so in exit polls asking the question back to 1996. These results inform views of the country's condition and the quality of its governance alike. Sixty-five percent said the nation is headed seriously off on the wrong track, the second most in available exit poll data back to 1990, trailing only its level in 2008. A mere 20 percent said they trust the government in Washington to do what's right all or most of the time. Fifty-five percent disapproved of Barack Obama's performance - up by 10 points vs. 2012, looking much like it did in his first midterm election in 2010, when his party lost 63 House seats. MORE: http://abcn.ws/1x30iZa
-WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT WHO VOTED. Voters who came out to cast their ballots today looked and acted a little bit different than they have in past years. Here are the major demographic trends of the 2014 midterm elections, courtesy of ABC's ANJA CROWDER and GARY LANGER: http://abcn.ws/10TNYNN
-7 REASONS WHY AMERICANS ARE MORE PESSIMISTIC THAN EVER. Across the country exit poll data points to one unifying theme: American's have a negative outlook on the direction the country is headed. Here are seven points that show just how pessimistic American's have become: http://abcn.ws/1x2hMFl
NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE WANTS TO TAKE A NAP. Presidential prospects? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is more worried about getting some shut-eye, ABC's DAN GOOD notes. "I haven't had time to think about . I'm on two hours sleep, so fair to say, what I'm looking for is a nap," Christie said in an interview today with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America." Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, lauded the quality of the GOP's candidates in Tuesday's races. Republicans seized control of the Senate by gaining at least seven seats, and also made a strong showing in gubernatorial races, winning in Maryland, Arkansas, Illinois and Massachusetts. "The president took a beating last night, and the fact is, you've got to sit down then with the folks on the other side and say to them, 'OK, let's see what we can agree on together.' And I think the president needs to lead. I've been urging him to do that for years. He needs to lead and work with these folks now," Christie, 52, said. http://abcn.ws/1pkUzvJ
STATE OF THE SENATE: REPUBLICANS SEIZE CONTROL OF THE SENATE. Republicans handed a major defeat to President Obama and Senate Democrats on Tuesday night when they seized control of the Senate by flipping at least seven seats from the Democratic to the GOP column. ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and BEN SIEGEL note. Republicans secured victory in seven states where Democrats currently hold seats - Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Three incumbent Democratic senators lost their seats - Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Mark Udall, D-Colo. Iowa and West Virginia elected their first female senators - Joni Ernst and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, respectively. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won re-election in Kentucky, putting him one step closer to becoming Senate Majority Leader next year. Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid congratulated McConnell on the Republican win. From the hog castrating, Harley-riding Joni Ernst in Iowa to the 37 year old former Army ranger Tom Cotton in Arkansas, here's a look at the candidates who won crucial Senate races: http://abcn.ws/10SC4Uh
STATE OF THE HOUSE: GOP TAKES STRONGER GRIP ON THE HOUSE. Republicans have strengthened their majority control of the House of Representatives. Now, the only question remaining is how big that majority will grow, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON and ALI DUKAKIS note. ABC News had projected that Republicans had won 239 seats in the House to 180 for Democrats, which already gives the GOP a stronger hold than they had in the previous Congress, when they had a 34-seat majority. ABC News projected that by the time the night is over, Republicans will have gained between 14 and 18 seats in the House. President Obama could face the largest House majority since the Great Depression if Republicans win a net-gain of 13 seats in the lower chamber today. With House Republicans adding to their current 34-seat majority, it will possibly diminish some of the power of a conservative wing of lawmakers who have challenged House Speaker John Boehner's leadership on issues like health care, immigration reform and government spending. http://abcn.ws/1y1uu3D
STATE OF THE STATES: GOP GOVERNORS SHARE IN PARTY'S BIG NIGHT. Republicans, took control of the Senate and built on their House majority, also made a strong showing in gubernatorial races around the country, ABC's ALEX MALLIN and MARYALICE PARKS report. GOP candidates in Maryland, Arkansas, Illinois and Massachusetts all took control of governor's seats that were previously held by Democrats. The only upset Democrats were able to pull off was in Pennsylvania. Here's a state-by-state look at the results: http://abcn.ws/1EhhCdY
5 WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS: On a night when Republicans took over the Senate and Democrats experienced even more losses than they were originally expecting, some of the longer-term winners and losers were people who didn't have their name on a ballot. Fortuitous fundraising and a focus on presidential prospects helped a few Republicans on Tuesday, while two candidates who tried to game the system - by physically moving to another state in one race and moving to a new political party for another - didn't work out for them in the end. Here's ABC's MEGHAN KENEALLY'S list of winners and losers: http://abcn.ws/1x5vUuM
LOUISIANA SENATE RACE WILL GO TO A RUNOFF: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The Louisiana Senate race is heading into a December run-off as no candidate was able to secure 50 percent of the vote. ABC News projected Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., will face-off against Rep Bill Cassidy, R-La., in the run-off. Campaign committees and outside groups have already reserved airtime ahead of an expected run-off. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has set aside $3.3 million to run ads in the month ahead of the December run-off. The Koch-backed group FreedoM Partners has also reserved $2.1 million in television advertisement time ahead of an anticipated run-off in the Bayou State. Here's everything you need to know about what happens next from ABC's JORDYN PHELPS: http://abcn.ws/1tYHecd
AN ELECTION OF FIRSTS: MEET THE HISTORY-MAKERS OF THE MIDTERMS. Election Night 2014 brought several "firsts" across the country. With their victories, these are the elected officials who made history on Tuesday night. Here's a list, courtesy of ABC's KARI REA. http://abcn.ws/10TzbTp
MEET ELISE STEFANIK, THE YOUNGEST WOMAN EVER ELECTED TO CONGRESS. Republican Elise Stefanik has become the youngest woman elected to Congress in history, winning her race against Aaron Woolf in New York's 21st open district 56-32, ABC News projects. She's the first Republican to win the district, which had been held by Democratic Rep. Bill Owens since 1993, ABC's NOAH WEILAND notes. Stefanik, 30, is seen as a new face and image for the GOP. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy both campaigned for her on the trail, offering a preview of the attention she's sure to receive at the Capitol as she projects an aura of energy and vitality for a party hoping to appeal to younger demographics. http://abcn.ws/1usQ6sF
FORMER 'AMERICAN IDOL' RUNNER-UP CLAY AIKEN LOSES HOUSE BID. No longer "Invisible," as he once lamented in a hit single, 2003 American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken won't be adding a congressional seat to his resume, according to ABC's ALI DUKAKIS. The former crooner, who has said he's done with the music business, reportedly decided to run against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's 2nd District to combat deep disenchantment with Congress both in his district and across the country. ABC News projects Ellmers will hold on to her seat in Congress. http://abcn.ws/1x65vOB
@gregmcrc: . #GOP runs on conservative issues and catches the red wave. Voters reject big government, big time.
@amyewalter: What happened last night? My take here http://cookpolitical.com/story/8068 . Obama coalition isn't a toy Ds can wind up & unleash whenever they need it
@ron_fournier: On and off record, WH officials sound disconnected from reality today. Somebody needs to be honest with them about what happened