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Midterm Elections Create Seismic Change in Congress

Nov 05, 2010

Americans turned out to vote on Tuesday and, for the third straight election cycle in a row, they voted overwhelmingly for a change in leadership. What many pundits had been predicting for quite some time did indeed come true: Republicans regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and made significant gains in the U.S. Senate, although Democrats will keep control of the upper chamber.

Democrats previously had an overwhelming majority in the House, with 255 seats to Republicans' 178 seats. With eleven races still too close to call, Republicans are projected to pick up anywhere from 60 to 65 seats, essentially erasing Democratic gains of the previous two election cycles. The 60-plus seat swing is the single most of either party since 1948, and Republicans will hold their largest majority in decades.

With more than 90 new members of the House, there will be a lot of new faces in the largest freshman class since 1992.

"IDFA has confidence in the relationships we have built with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We will continue to work with new and veteran members of Congress through bipartisan coalitions to reform dairy policy."

Key House Statistics

• More than half of the members of the fiscally conservative, 54-member Democratic Blue Dog Coalition will not be returning next year.
• Three prominent committee chairmen - Representatives John Spratt (D-SC), Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Ike Skelton (D-MO) - lost their seats.
• Half of the Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee lost re-election.

The House Agriculture Committee, previously chaired by Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) will now likely be chaired by current Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK). Several top leadership posts will shift as well, with Representative John Boehner (R-OH) expected to become the new Speaker of the House and an uncertain future in Democratic leadership for current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In the Senate, Republicans will gain at least six seats, pending the outcome of races in Washington and Alaska that are still too close to call. This change will greatly diminish the Democratic majority and bring the projected margin to 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, previously chaired by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who lost her bid for re-election, is now widely expected to be chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

The Republican tide extended to state legislatures and governorships as well, with Republicans gaining 19 state legislative chambers and at least seven governorships with several races still too close to call. IDFA will report on these races in next week's News Update.

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