The beginning of the 111th Congress will find Democrats even stronger in both houses than they were after their landslide in 2006 gave them majorities in the House and Senate for the 110th Congress. Still, though, Tuesday could have gone better for the party -- indeed, many observers expected it to.
Right now, it's looking very unlikely that the Democrats will get the 60 Senate seats they need for a filibuster-proof majority in that body. That was, granted, always a long shot, but there was some chance of it happening. And as of this post, they're farther away from that mark than supporters had hoped. So far, the party has picked up a total of five seats, one each in Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia. Races in Alaska, Georgia, Minnesota and Oregon remain too close to call.
In the House, Democrats still have a shot at netting 20 seats on the night, which would be on the very low end of what experts -- including Republicans who track House races -- had predicted. The party has lost four of its own, including Kansas' Nancy Boyda and Texas' Nick Lampson. But they've also managed to flip more than a dozen previously Republican seats. Prominent among the GOP incumbents who now find themselves searching for a new job are Colorado's Marilyn Musgrave, Connecticut's Chris Shays and Virginia's Thelma Drake. Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who attracted national attention after claiming that "liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God," lost his reelection battle as well. And, among others, Democrats managed to change one Alabama seat and two New Mexico seats from red to blue.