Congress to have similar face as Obama starts new term: Dems control Senate, GOP holds House

Brendan James

Congress may get consistently low marks for popularity, but after Tuesday night, the next House and Senate President Barack Obama will have to work with looks much like the last one: Democrats hold a majority of the Senate, and Republicans will control the House.

The Senate

A few fresh faces will appear next session: In Massachusetts, Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, confirming Warren's status as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

In Missouri, Democrat Claire McCaskill won a second Senate term against her Republican challenger, Rep. Todd Akin. The GOP candidate's remarks on abortion made news this year and appalled many Americans both inside and outside the state. Akin had to give up his House seat to run, so he won't be returning to Washington.

Tim Kaine, who ran against former Sen. George Allen, won the Democrats a Senate seat in Virginia. A toss-up race in Indiana went to Democrat Joe Donnelly, who defeated Republican Richard Mourdock, his bid having fallen behind potentially due to recent controversial remarks he made about rape.

One Democratic victory cost a Republican challenger dearly: Chris Murphy won Connecticut's Senate race, defeating Republican Linda McMahon, former president of wrestling juggernaut WWE. Over two unsuccessful campaigns, McMahon spent $100 million of her own personal fortune to pursue a Senate seat.

Not everything will be settled by Wednesday, however. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is leading Republican Rep. Rick Berg by only 3,000 votes in North Dakota, prompting Berg to announce he will not concede before a recount.

Other Democrats also won re-election to the Senate: Bill Nelson in Florida, Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island, Ben Cardin in Maryland and Tom Carper in Delaware.

Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin beat Republican Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, making history by becoming the country's first openly gay senator.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Republican Sen. Bob Corker held onto his seat. In Montana, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester won a second term despite a strong challenge from U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

Elsewhere, it was a good night for independents.  In Vermont, independent junior Sen. Bernie Sanders won re-election, while in Maine, former Gov. Angus King took the Senate seat of retiring GOP moderate Olympia Snowe.

The House

In California's 7th District, Democrat Ami Bera is ahead of opponent Dan Lungren by only 184 votes; the secretary of state has called the race a "close contest," and either candidate can request a recount at any point.

Joe Kennedy III, Robert's grandson, easily won Massachusetts' 4th District, beating challenger Sean Bielat for prominent Democrat Barney Frank's former seat.

Candidates affiliated with the tea party had a difficult night. Michele Bachmann, a failed GOP presidential candidate for nomination, narrowly avoided losing her Minnesota seat after a challenge from Democrat Jim Graves that came down to a few thousand votes. In Florida's 18th District, tea party favorite Allen West lost re-election to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, the race being decided while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was giving his concession speech. Another tea party candidate, junior Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling, lost in Illinois' 17th District to Democrat and former journalist Cheri Bustos.

In Utah's 4th District, one of the last Blue Dog Democrats, Jim Matheson, came out ahead of Mia Love.

In California's 10th District, Republican freshman Jeff Denham beat Democrat Jose "Astro Jose" Hernandez, a former astronaut, in a race that saw $12 million spent on attack ads and direct mailings, funded mostly from sources outside the state.