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After GOP landslide of Election 2010, what next for Obama?

Election 2010 voters sent a strong message of discontent to President Obama on the economy. They also handed him a big political challenge: work toward greater bipartisanship.

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Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R) of Florida said as much in his victory speech.

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“We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight, these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party,” Senator-elect Rubio said after handily defeating his two opponents. “What they are is a second chance – a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be, not so long ago.”

It was just four years ago that the Republicans lost their majorities in the House and Senate. Many Republicans felt their own party had lost its way in failing to control spending and the growth of government. Now they have a new opportunity, fueled by the determination of tea party conservatives, to show their partisans what they can do.

By early morning Wednesday, election results were still trickling in. But several points were clear:

Money can’t buy love. Most of the major self-funders, GOP Senate candidates Carly Fiorina of California and Linda McMahon of Connecticut, went down to defeat, as did the mother of all self-funders, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R). Ms. Whitman lost to former (and now future) Gov. Jerry Brown (D). Whitman broke all records for self-funding, spending $142 million of her own money. The big exception may be Rick Scott, the Republican former health-care CEO who funneled more than $50 million of his own money into the governor’s race in Florida. The race remained too close to call Wednesday morning.

Tea party upsets in Senate primaries did prove costly to the GOP. Nevada’s Sharron Angle and Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, both tea party favorites, failed to win seats for the GOP that more conventional nominees would likely have won. In Kentucky, where tea partyer Rand Paul won his Senate race, that seat was expected to stay in Republican hands anyway.

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