Associated Press, Published November 02 2010
UPDATED: GOP gains House seats; tea party favorites thriveWASHINGTON — Resurgent Republicans piled up gains in pursuit of a House majority Tuesday night and added seats in the Senate, too, in midterm elections shadowed by recession and fueled by a rebellion of tea party conservatives.
"We've come to take out government back," Sen.-elect Rand Paul told cheering supporters at a victory party in Bowling Green, Ky.
Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas lost her seat, and House members in Florida, Indiana and Virginia were among the Republicans' victims. First-term Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia was a casualty despite a late-campaign appearance on his behalf by President Barack Obama.
On a good night for Republicans, Paul and tea party favorite Marco Rubio in Florida coasted to easy Senate victories, overcoming months of withering Democratic attacks on their conservative views. But Christine O'Donnell lost badly in Delaware.
Despite the Republicans' gains, a Senate majority seemed out of reach.
But the GOP brimmed with confidence that it would pick up the 40 seats needed to take control of the House and install Rep. John Boehner as the new speaker. "This is going to be a big day," he said as he voted near his home in West Chester, Ohio. For those who think the government is spending too much and bailing out too many, he said, "This is their opportunity to be heard."
Democrats conceded nothing. "Let's go out there and continue to fight," Speaker Nancy Pelosi exhorted supporters in remarks before television cameras while the polls were still open in much of the country.
But not long after she spoke, Democratic incumbents in both houses began falling.
The first to go was Lincoln, defeated by Rep. John Boozman in her bid for a third term.
In the House, Republicans sent Rep. Rick Boucher and Perriello to defeat in Virginia; Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Grayson in Florida, too.
With the polls still open in much of the country, Republicans led for three dozen seats currently in Democratic hands.
Interviews with voters revealed an extraordinarily sour electorate, stressed financially and poorly disposed toward the president, the political parties and the federal government.
About four in 10 voters said they were worse off financially than two years ago, according to preliminary exit poll results and pre-election surveys. More than one in three said their votes were an expression of opposition to Obama, but more than half expressed negative views about both political parties. Roughly 40 percent of voters considered themselves supporters of the conservative tea party movement. By contrast, about three in four expressed negative views about the federal government. Less than half said they wanted the government to do more to solve problems.
The preliminary findings were based on Election Day and pre-election interviews with more than 9,000 voters.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.