Democrats see gains in House, Senate


On a night where Democrat Barack Obama loomed large on the nation's largest stage, fellow members of his party made significant gains on Capitol Hill.

When Senator-elect Jeanne Sheehan was voted in yesterday evening in her state of New Hampshire, the Democrats clinched the majority in the United States senate. As of press time, they were still working on the elusive filibuster-proof vote, which would require 60 senators.

By press time, the Democrats had amassed a commanding majority of 246 seats in the House of Representatives, compared to the Republican party's 162.

John Weingart, Associate Director at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said some of the Democrats' gains in Congress could be traced back to the current adminstration.

"Nationally, the Congressional election was something of a referendum on the Bush administration," Weingart said. "Congress as an institution didn't poll well. I think it was a sense that the congressional election was something of a referendum on the Bush administration, and a way for voters to express discontent."

The voting climate was very challenging for Republicans this election, Weingart said.

Aysha Azmat, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, lives and voted in Somerset County, located in the 12th District. She campaigned for Democratic incumbent Rush Holt, who won the district with 62 percent of the vote.

"I have worked with his campaign since he visited my high school," Azmat said. "I used to call people to remind them to vote. He's liberal and against the war, but what draws me more to him is how he is involved in the community."

Azmat said the Republican congressmen do not want George W. Bush's presidency to ruin the image of the Republican Party.

"At the same time, they want to try to distance themselves from Bush while maintaining loyalty to the GOP," Azmat said.

After slips in public opinion of Bush's handling of the economy and foreign policy, control of the house was given to the Democrats in 2006.

Once again, with its ties to the current failing administration, the Republicans are the minority in Congress.

The majority of Americans have chosen Democrats as their elected representatives this election, giving Sen. Barack Obama the added benefit of a Democratically-controlled House of Representatives.

According to CNN's national exit polls, 51 percent of males and 55 percent of females leaving the polling locations voted Democrat.

According to the same polls, 11 percent of voters were first-time voters.

Sixy-two percent of young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for a Democrat for the House of Representatives.

The majority of all age categories voted for Democratic candidates, with an exception to the 65 years and older bracket, which tied Democrat and Republican at 49 percent each.

New Jersey had 13 seats available — five of which went to Republicans, including South Jersey's 9th District, Central Jersey's 4th District and North Jersey's 5th, 7th and 11th districts. Middlesex County's 6th District went to Democratic incumbent Frank Pallone with 67 percent of the vote.

For the past two years, the Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have controlled the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 235 seats to 199 held by Republicans.


Pablo Albilal

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