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Was The GOP Victory Really Really A Tsunami?

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 4, 2010 2:00PM

House of Representatives winners and losers. Image via Politico
There's no doubt Republicans scored big victories in Tuesday's election. Overall, Republicans took more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives. Here in Illinois, the GOP turned what once was a pretty blue state a bright shade of red. Plenty of people have called the election results a stark revocation of the “Obama agenda,” but are Tuesday's results really a complete nationwide rejection of the last two years of Obama policies?

In Illinois, the GOP picked up 11 House seats and the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama. Three of those were extremely tight races, with wins in single digit margins. Mark Kirk won over Alexi Giannoulis by under 2 percentage points, while nearly 6% of the vote went to independent candidates. While Bill Brady won't concede the race for governor, it looks like incumbent Pat Quinn will remain governor by a razor thin margin.

Nationally, plenty of races had wide margins, but many others also had tighter races. Voter turnout overall was merely average for a midterm election (41%) but still much lower than the 2008 election (61.6%). Democrats were still able to hold onto the Senate, even if it's a much smaller hold than the super majority they once had.

While one can't deny the GOP certainly came out in force on Tuesday, Democrats and independents certainly put up a fight and I don't believe it's a wholesale rejection of the Democratic party. Obama's approval rating hovers above 40%, much higher than Bush's approval rating during the 2006 midterms (33%). In 2006, Democrats gained 31 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. Republicans essentially got the Senate seats they lost during the last midterms, with a much bigger House win. Tuesday certainly had waves of GOP success, but it wasn't exactly a tsunami.