In a historic night for the Republican Party, it regained control of the Senate and picked up at least three additional House seats the first such midterm election outcome since the Civil War. President Bush became the third chief executive in a century whose party gained House seats during a midterm election, after Franklin Roosevelt in 1934 and Bill Clinton in 1998. As the outcomes of races became apparent, Republicans assured themselves of the minimum 50 seats they needed in the Senate with the victory of their candidate in Missouri, Jim Talent. In other key races:
In Minnesota, Norm Coleman (R) beat ex-Vice President Walter Mondale, who replaced the deceased Sen. Paul Wellstone (D).
Former Democratic New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the late replacement on the ballot for scandal-tarred Robert Torricelli, easily defeated Republican Douglas Forrester.
In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) led all candidates but will have to face a Dec. 7 runoff against Republican Mary Terrell.
Republicans also gained several governorships in the South, while Democrats scored best in the Midwest and California. President Bush congratulated his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush (R), on his reelection in Florida. The younger Bush's defeat had been a prime goal of Democratic election strategy. Elsewhere:
California's Gray Davis (D) held off a challenge from Republican Bill Simon, helping to give Democrats control of all major offices in the nation's most populous state.
State Sen. Sonny Perdue became the first Republican to win in Georgia since Reconstruction, defeating popular Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes.
Lieutenant Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of the late US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, lost her bid in Maryland, with Robert Ehrlich becoming the first Republican to win there in almost 40 years.
Democrat Jennifer Granholm became the Michigan's first female governor. Women also won governorships in Kansas (Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat) and Hawaii (Linda Lingle, a Republican).
Both parties claimed victory in Alabama, where voting problems in one county caused results to be delayed. Oregon's mail-in voting system also made it likely that final results would be delayed, possibly for days.
On key ballot initiatives, voters in Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio all rejected proposals on the medical use of marijuana. In Florida, a measure banning smoking in restaurants passed, while Arizonans approved raising the state tax on cigarettes from 58 cents per pack to $1.18. Voters in Oregon rejected a measure that would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods and another to universalize healthcare.
Disappointed Democrats said support for Bush tilted elections in favor of the GOP, concluding that his popularity and a wave of patriotism were major factors with voters. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and other top Democrats said they thought a majority of the population was more interested in the war against Iraq than in their key issues, such as the economy and healthcare.