Republicans will hold at least 246 House seats come January, according to election results Saturday, giving the GOP a commanding majority that matches the party’s post-World War II high during Democratic President Harry S. Truman’s administration.
The GOP retained control of two seats in runoffs in Louisiana, expanding the advantage for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who can afford defections from his increasingly conservative caucus and still get legislation passed. Combined with the Republican takeover of the Senate, Congress will be all-GOP for the final two years of President Barack Obama’s second term.
The latest count gives the GOP a 246-188 majority. One race, in Arizona, is still outstanding.
In Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, which extends from the state’s northeast into parishes bordering Mississippi, physician Ralph Abraham defeated Jamie Mayo, the Democratic mayor of Monroe. The incumbent, Vance McAllister, had failed to advance to the runoff. Elected less than a year ago, the married McAllister saw his career undermined after a video surfaced earlier this year showing him kissing another woman.
In the 6th Congressional District, in the Baton Rouge area, former state coastal restoration chief Garret Graves turned back Democrat Edwin Edwards, a four-term governor and ex-congressman who had to overcome his 2000 corruption conviction and subsequent prison term.
One race still must be decided.
In a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area, an automatic recount will determine whether Rep. Ron Barber keeps his seat or Republican challenger Martha McSally prevails. McSally led by fewer than 200 votes.
If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover’s administration.
In the midterm election rout, House Republicans prevailed on Democratic turf, netting 12 seats and winning in New York, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. Republican challengers knocked out long-term Democratic incumbents in Georgia and West Virginia, seats that the GOP now could hold for generations as the party maintains its stranglehold on the South.
The GOP had entered the Nov. 4 midterm elections with a 234-201 edge. Democrats had held out hope of minimizing their losses despite Obama’s low popularity and historic losses for the party occupying the White House. Democrats did manage to win three Republican-held seats in California, Florida and Nebraska, but Republicans had far greater success around the country.
The 246 seats match the total the GOP had in 1947-49 when Truman occupied the White House.
Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman’s 74.