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Democrats set to retain senate, Republicans to keep House

Democrats control the senate by a thin majority of 51-47, with the remaining two being independents, writes Yashwant Raj.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2012 02:26 IST
Yashwant Raj

Richard Mourdock has known both instant celebrity and instant notoriety. He shot to fame by beating Richard Lougar, long-time Indiana senator in the primaries, in May.

He hit infamy earlier this month describing pregnancy from rape as “something God intended”, endangering Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney’s race.

Also jeopardizing Republican party’s efforts to wrest control of the US senate from Democrats. Indiana was a safe seat returning Lugar to the senate for 32 years. It’s not any longer.

Another Republican candidate for the senate Todd Akin was there ahead of Mourdock on rape with this: a woman’s body shuts down during rape to prevent pregnancy.

And that put another senate race in danger for Republicans.

US voters will elect on November 6 a president, one-third of the 100-member Senate (like Rajya Sabha), and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.

Democrats control the senate by a thin majority of 51-47, with remaining two being independents, who have tended to vote with Democrats.

FiveThirtyEight, a New York Times blog respected widely for accurate poll forecasts, gave Republican 62% chance of wining control of the Senate in August.

It’s down to 16% now.

Mourdock and Akin have both contributed to it, by not only putting safe Republican seats in play, but actually handing them over to Democrats, and putting the Senate of reach.

“Our current projection is for the Democrats to hold a 52-to-48 majority in the next Senate,” said Kyle Kondik, political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

But the House, as the House of Representatives is better known, is firmly with Republicans, despite polls giving Democrats a few more seats this time than in 2010.

All 435 members of the House are elected every second year unlike the Senate, whose members have a six year term, a third of whom face re-election every second year.

Riding a wave created by Tea Party’s fiscal conservatism in November 2010, the Republican Party had grabbed control of the House by a huge margin, 242-193.

President Barack Obama had called the defeat a “shellacking”.

Republicans are not expected to repeat that performance. Actually, polls project they may lose a few seats, but not enough to lose control of the chamber.

“We project the Democrats to win a net of seven seats, which obviously wouldn’t be nearly enough to win the House majority,” said Kondik.

The projected score is 235-200 for Republicans.

That’s basically then a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives, which would continue to make life difficult for whoever wins the White House.

For much of his term since November 2010, Obama remained at odds with the House, which fought him every inch of the way on every issue -- debt, budget and immigration.

If Romney wins, he can expect an equally obstructive Senate.

This US congress has polled consistently badly. It had an approval rating of 21% in a Gallup poll earlier this week, much lower than 34% historical average and among the lowest final pre-election Gallup polls.