North Carolina surprised pollsters and analysts across the nation when Republican candidate Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan.
Louisiana’s Senate contest will move to a Dec. 6 run-off election. The state features a unique jungle primary — in which all candidates are on the ballot regardless of party.
The shift to Republican control could have major policy implications in Congress, Dinan said.
He said Republicans would gain a great deal of bargaining power in judicial and executive appointments with a Senate majority.
“Another effect would be to allow Republicans to set the policy agenda to a greater degree than at present, where Democrats in the Senate are able to prevent Republican-House-passed bills from even coming to a vote in the Senate,” Dinan said.
One signature policy issue for Republicans in 2014 has been the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans have tried 54 times in Congress to repeal the legislation, all attempts that Democrats have promptly blocked. Many GOP candidates have campaigned this fall on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Still, Republicans in power might actually seek to bridge partisan gaps with their Democratic counterparts, said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute .
“(Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell has suggested that there are areas where he could cooperate with the White House,” Bowman said. “How the President reacts to the outcomes will give us some clues to the next two years. It would serve both parties well to find places to cooperate.”
Geoffrey Vaden Skelley, spokesman for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said Republicans in power could give Obama a difficult final two years in office.
“It could potentially foreshadow a lot of vetoes for President Obama,” he said. “And if there’s an opening on the Supreme Court in the next couple years, we might see a titanic battle over filling the seat.”
Kentucky was the first state to be reported, and McConnell, R-Ky., easily won re-election over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell is in line to become the Senate majority leader once Republicans have taken the Senate.
It was a tough night for Democratic senators, but the party held onto its Senate seat in New Hampshire, which featured Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who defeated Republican and former Sen. Scott Brown in a tight race.
In Georgia, if neither candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates proceed to a runoff election to be held in January. Though it was predicted, that situation never came to fruition. Republican David Perdue defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn.
The polls in Alaska closed after press time. The contest featured Democratic Incumbent Sen. Mark Begich against former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan. This race is viewed by national Republicans as a potential pick up, where they could flip the seat from Democratic to Republican control.