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The New Look of the U.S. Congress

The U.S presidential election ended Tuesday night with a decisive win for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who will take office Jan. 20., 2009. However, several Senate races remain too close to call, leaving in doubt the balance of power in the Congress. Those races include four embattled Republican incumbents: Sen. Norm Coleman (battling Al Franken) in Minnesota, Sen. Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, Sen. Gordon Smith in Oregon and Sen. Ted Stevens in Alaska.

Democrats have gained a greater majority in the House and also added five sure seats in the Senate. However, they are unlikely to hit the magic number of 60 in the Senate to give them a so-called super majority in the executive and legislative branches.

The certain seats gained by Democrats in the Senate number five. In the Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) will add to her majority despite 11 races still to be called. Congressional Quarterly forecasts a minimum gain of 21 seats. The likely makeup of the House would be 256 Democrats to 174 Republicans, with five seats still a toss up.

Early Tuesday night it was clear the Democrats would gain seats. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R., N.C.) lost to challenger Kay Hagan, although the announcement was offset by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holding on to his seat in Kentucky. In addition, it would seem that Sen. Ted Stevens (R., Alaska), who was convicted of corruption last month, will return to the Senate.

The other three races may not be known until later Wednesday. However, all three of the Republican incumbents presently lead by small margins. It is possible the Democrats could win one or two of those races, but they won't reach 60. Of course, this means that Republicans would maintain enough members to filibuster bills in the Senate despite passage in a Democrat-controlled House.

A New Mandate

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