iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The midterm elections took place Tuesday. Miss the coverage? No problem. We’ve turned to Shushannah Walshe, deputy political director for ABC News and co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Candidate, to help explain what happened.
1. For those not paying attention to the midterm elections, they happened Tuesday and the Republicans, aka the GOP, did really well, right?
SW: Yes, really well. Call it a shellacking, thumping, a wave, whatever you want. It was a great night for Republicans and a devastating one for Democrats. The Republicans not only took control of the Senate, with an extra seat to spare (and one more that hasn’t been called yet so there could be another), they gained seats in the House of Representatives and had huge gubernatorial wins, even in blue states, like Massachusetts and Maryland.
2. Were there any bright spots for the Democrats?
SW: In New Hampshire, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held on to her seat against her GOP challenger former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who crossed the border to run in the Granite State. Also in that state, Gov. Maggie Hassan held on to her governorship against businessman Walt Havenstein who surged in the polls at the end. In Pennsylvania, Democratic challenger Tom Wolf beat incumbent GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, another bright spot in an otherwise painful night for Dems. In the House, two notable Democratic wins were Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, who beat incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Southerland and in Nebraska, Brad Ashford knocked off incumbent GOP Rep. Lee Terry, the first Democrat Omaha has sent to the House in 20 years. Both are big wins for Democrats.
3. But some of the races are still going right on right? What are the important ones and when will they be resolved?
SW: Yes! We have a few races that are still unresolved. In Alaska, both the Senate and gubernatorial races are without outcomes, but this is a state where historically it can take longer to determine winners because of results coming in from remote locales. As in all states, absentee ballots can be mailed in from all over, but unlike other states in Alaska absentee and early ballots may come from voters in far-flung locales like commercial salmon fishermen or oil rig workers on the North Slope. Right now in the Senate race, GOP challenger Dan Sullivan is leading Democrat Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,000 votes and in the gubernatorial race independent challenger Bill Walker is leading GOP Gov. Sean Parnell by about 3,000 votes. But, there could be as many as 50,000 votes still to be counted and Alaskans have 15 days to get their absentee ballots in from Election Day, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 4.
4. How does the president feel about the results? I heard something about bourbon.
SW: The president admitted the day after that the “Republicans had a good night,” but said it “doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.” But, yes let’s get to bourbon. President Obama has only met one-on-one with the man who is set to be Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, once or twice in six years, but the president told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Wednesday he would be willing to meet the Kentucky Senator for a cocktail.
“You know, actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” Obama said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t know what his preferred drink is, but, you know, my interactions with Mitch McConnell, he–you know, he has always been very straightforward with me.”
This is a light-hearted turnaround from the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner where he dismissed the idea, garnering huge laughs from the crowd.
“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask,” Obama told the crowd, tongue firmly in cheek. “Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”
Now, we can all look forward to a bourbon summit. When will it be? Well the folks over at Knob Creek Bourbon suggested hosting the event on December 5, the day Prohibition ended.
5. OK, so, the government was divided before the election and will still be divided in January. What does that actually mean in terms of governance?
SW: It’s hard to say right now. Americans made it very clear at the polls they do not want gridlock anymore and on Friday the president hosted congressional leaders for a long lunch to hammer some areas of agreement. There will, of course, continue to be areas of serious disagreement, but if both sides can agree on some policy including issues like trade and tax reform, that’s a step in the right direction.
“Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign. I’m pretty sure I’ll take some actions that some in Congress will not like. That’s natural. That’s how our democracy works,” Obama said at the same news conference Wednesday, acknowledging the obvious difficulties.
He will also have to brush off the veto stamp, something he has only used twice. And one more thing. He could still go through with an executive action on immigration, something he has said he will do, but will surely inflame the GOP.
6. Last, but not least, who are the rising stars everyone is talking about? Someone named Love?
SW: There are quite a few Republican rising stars that were big winners Tuesday, including Mia Love, who won a congressional seat in Utah and is the first Republican African-American woman in the House.
There’s also Elise Stefanik, who won a congressional seat in New York State. At 30, she will be the youngest woman in the House ever.
There’s Joni Ernst, the hog-castrating, motorcycle riding mom and state senator who was vaulted to GOP superstar in her successful bid for the Iowa Senate. Her seat clinched the GOP majority Tuesday night.
There’s also Tom Cotton, who after serving just one term in the House is now the Senator-elect from Arkansas, beating out Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. At only 37, he holds two Harvard degrees and will be the youngest lawmaker in the Senate next year. He’s also a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s many more, but that’s a sampling. As you can see, the make-up of Congress next year already looks very different and much younger.
Read More →
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio