The most unpopular House of Representatives
in modern times was left pretty much unchanged by voters Tuesday with
control firmly in Republican hands, according to projections.
The partisan brand of politics practiced by Republicans for the past two years appeared not to have seriously damaged the party.
When the new House is sworn in next January, it will
look much like the House that nearly brought about government shutdowns
and an historic default on debt in 2011.
The bitter partisanship in the 435-member chamber - a thorn in Democratic President Barack Obama's side - was thought to have contributed to record low public approval ratings of Congress that at one point dipped to 10 percent.
If voters did not like the overall tenor of Congress for the past two years, they seemed to remain satisfied with their individual members.
Election results were still coming in, but it appeared as if Speaker John Boehner
will preside over a House next year that is close to the 240
Republicans and 190 Democrats who now populate the "lower chamber."
Currently, there also are five vacancies.
"The upshot is that the voters are saying to President
Obama and Speaker Boehner: 'Go back to the bargaining table; finish the
deal,'" said David Kendall, a senior fellow at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington.
Kendall was referring to the intensive negotiations
Obama and Boehner held during the summer of 2011, which ultimately fell
apart but were aimed at bringing around $4 trillion in deficit
reductions over 10 years.
Following that breakdown, many congressional leaders
said that only the 2012 elections could settle the Democratic-Republican
dispute over taxes and spending that stood in the way of an
Tuesday's results might disappoint those who had been hoping for clear marching orders from voters, though.
Boehner and other top House Republicans already were
warning Obama that they will do everything they can to stop the
president if he tries to raise income taxes on the rich to help reduce
deficits that have hovered around $1 trillion in each of the past four
On election night two years ago, the so-called Tea Party
faction shook Washington's political establishment as conservative
Republicans rode that small-government movement to a tidal wave victory.
Suddenly, skyrocketing federal debt, which Republicans said threatened
to swamp the struggling economy and hamper job creation, dominated the
Two years later, voters displayed some fatigue with the Tea Party as some of the movement's stars faced difficult re-election bids.
Even so, Republicans were not expected to abandon the central tenets of Tea Party ideology.
"There will still be enough Republicans enamored by the Tea Party idea against raising taxes," said Youngstown State University political science professor Paul Sracic. "We're looking at a huge struggle in the lame duck and next year," he said of the post-election session of Congress and 2013 fights over tax policy.