In no place was the Tea Party/Republican political tsunami more felt than in the United States House of Representatives. More than 60 seats flipped from Democrat to Republican, placing the GOP in control of the House.
Nancy Pelosi is out as House Speaker and, the betting is, out as a member of the House, despite the fact that she won her seat easily. John Boehner, who was once famous as a lieutenant of New Gingrich when he was Speaker in the 1990s, is now Speaker himself.
A large number of Democratic members who were elected in 2006 and 2008 went down to defeat. These included Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Bobby Bright of Alabama, Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, and Harry Teague from New Mexico.
But a number of long-serving, senior Democrats went down to defeat as well. These included John Spratt of South Carolina, James Oberstar of Minnesota, Ike Skelton of Missouri and Chet Edwards of Texas. Spratt was chair of the House Budget Committee. Oberstar was chair of the House Transportation Committee. Skelton was chair of House Armed Services. Edwards was once mentioned as a possible running mate for Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign.
The Republican takeover of the House has profound implications for the course of American politics going forward. It represents a sharp rebuke for President Obama and his fellow Democrats for enacting unpopular legislation such as health care reform and the stimulus package. It suggests wide-spread public support for cutting spending and cutting taxes, two things which have so far proved anathema for President Obama and congressional Democrats.
The new Republican House will be highly motivated and energized to pass conservative legislation and send it on to the Senate, still controlled by the Democrats, to dare the upper body not to pass it as well. Legislation that does pass the Senate will be sent to President Obama, who will be dared to veto it.
The question arises whether there will be political trench warfare between Congress and the White House and, on occasion, between the House and Senate. The betting is that Barack Obama is not as nimble as Bill Clinton was, so instead of accommodation and triangulation, President Obama will choose to follow a veto strategy. That likely means gridlock, acrimony, and rising public frustration.
Who gets blamed for the latter will all depend on who is believed to be responsible for the gridlock. President Obama will find it hard to blame a “do nothing Congress” for what is about to follow. His party still nominally controls the Senate.
And that sets the stage for 2012.
Source: 2010 Results Map – The House, Politico