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A house united

"A house united" Continued...

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

In his concession speech to supporters, Shays defended his campaign and blamed the loss to Democrat Jim Himes on a political wave of Democrat support: "We lost this race because we did our very best, but we had this tsunami that was on its way."

That tsunami, largely fueled by the cool consistent presence of Obama atop the party, trumped desires for change on Capitol Hill. Now, America is left with the same Harry Reid-run Senate and Nancy Pelosi-run House of Representatives it had before.

And Republicans are left wondering just how the party so lost its way a mere 14 years removed from the GOP sweep to congressional power in 1994. Coburn does not wonder: "People just don't like hypocrites, and they see the Republicans as hypocrites. That's the one thing that is not tolerated in this country. Until you get rid of that and the ethical lapses and have real leadership willing to give up position to stand on principles, you're not going to have people come flocking back to the Republican Party."

Indeed, GOP victories in this election lend support to such ideas. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota ran well to the right of their respective opponents to come out ahead in tight races. And solidly conservative congressmen like Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin won resoundingly in contests many Democrats expected to be competitive.

"Campaigns like this force you to work harder, and they remind you what a privilege it is to serve," McConnell told his supporters after his victory. Many conservatives hope the election results also will remind Republicans what a privilege it is to win.

History of congressional races

It's been three decades since either party has made significant gains in both congressional chambers for two straight elections.

1978

House: GOP +15

Senate: GOP +3

1980

House: GOP +34

Senate: GOP +12

1982

House: Dem +27

Senate: Dem +1

1984

House: GOP +16

Senate: Dem +2

1986

House: Dem +5

Senate: Dem +8

1988

House: Dem +2

Senate: Dem +1

1990

House: Dem +7

Senate: Dem +1

1992

House: GOP +9

Senate: no change

1994

House: GOP +54

Senate: GOP +8

1996

House: Dem +8

Senate: GOP +2

1998

House: Dem +5

Senate: no change

2000

House: Dem +1

Senate: Dem +4

2002

House: GOP +8

Senate: GOP +2

2004

House: GOP +3

Senate: GOP +4

2006

House: Dem +31

Senate: Dem +5

2008

House: Dem +19?

Senate: Dem +5?

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