US Elections 2010: Winners and losers

Image caption,
Republicans Marco Rubio and Meg Whitman enjoyed contrasting fortunes

The following are some of the winners and losers in Tuesday's mid-term elections in the United States.


John Boehner

The Republican congressman from Ohio will replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House of Representatives, and become second in line to the US presidency (after the vice-president). Elected as Minority Leader in 2007, the perpetually-tanned Mr Boehner has gained a reputation as a fierce partisan and a skilled negotiator. He has vowed to unravel President Barack Obama's healthcare legislation, reduce the size of the federal government, create jobs and alter the way Congress is run. "The American people's voice was heard at the ballot box," he said. "We have real work to do, and this is not the time for celebration." However, Mr Boehner will need all his decades of experience to make good on the promises in the two years before the next election, with the threat of presidential vetoes, a poorly performing economy, and divisions within the Republican Party.

The Tea Party

The grass-roots anti-tax political movement turned potential into power. The Tea Party helped elect Marco Rubio in Florida and Rand Paul in Kentucky to the Senate, and Nikki Haley to the South Carolina governor's mansion. All three were considered long shots when they declared their candidacies, but won over conservative voters in their respective states. About 25% of voters considered themselves Tea Party supporters, according to preliminary exit poll results. But the movement also cost the Republicans seats they had once viewed as safe. Correspondents say that had the party nominated the moderate Congressman, Mike Castle, for the Senate seat in Delaware, instead of the controversial Christine O'Donnell, he would almost certainly have won. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, also benefited from Sharron Angle's candidacy. In Alaska, Tea Party candidate Joe Miller was trailing write-in candidate Senator Lisa Murkowski, who he defeated in the Republican primary, as the votes were counted. Many also wonder whether Tea Party candidates such as Mr Paul will now be co-opted by the Republican establishment.

Marco Rubio

The 39-year-old Tea Party favourite beat not only his Democrat rival to Florida's Senate seat, but also the Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, who ended up campaigning as an independent. The son of Cuban exiles, Mr Rubio served as a city commissioner in West Miami before winning election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. Six years later, he became the youngest person and the first Hispanic person to be sworn in as speaker. He beat Mr Crist in the Republican primary after capitalising on conservative anger at the governor's support of President Obama's stimulus package with a pledge of fiscal responsibility. With his right-wing credentials, powerful supporters, and Cuban heritage, Mr Rubio is considered a great hope for the Republican Party, which has seen Hispanic voters abandon it in recent elections.

Harry Reid

The veteran Democrat and Senate majority leader held off Tea Party favourite Sharron Angle in Nevada, giving his party something to cheer about. Earlier this year, the Republicans said his seat was one of their chief targets, as they sought to capitalise on local anger at the high rates of unemployment and foreclosures. But Ms Angle's victory in the Republican primary revived Mr Reid's candidacy. The former Nevada assemblywoman once said she wanted to phase out social security and called for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency. In his victory speech, the Senator said Nevada had chosen "to move forward, not backwards". Despite his victory on Tuesday, Mr Reid's reputation has been tarnished, and he must now lead a Senate where the Democrats have only a narrow majority.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee

The Republican Party picked up the governorships in the key presidential election states of Ohio and Pennsylvania and other swing states, giving them a tremendous advantage ahead of the upcoming presidential campaign. No-one has yet declared that they will seek the party's nomination, but several contenders have already built fund-raising operations and paid repeated visits to the early primary battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. They including the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, and soon-to-be-former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. But another possible candidate, Sarah Palin, may face questions about her decisions to endorse defeated Tea Party-backed candidates in Delaware, Nevada and California.


Big-money CEOs

Despite spending vast sums on their election campaigns, some high-profile Republicans - including the former head of eBay, Meg Whitman, and ex-Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina - failed to win. Ms Whitman was soundly beaten by California's Attorney-General, Jerry Brown, in the race for the state governorship. Including contributions from others, her total spending was expected to exceed $162m (£100m) - a record. Her campaign was knocked off message when it emerged that she had employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper for nine years, undermining her pledge to punish companies if they hired illegal workers. Her decision to support the deportation of her housekeeper is said to have alienated Hispanics. Ms Fiorina likewise failed to unseat the incumbent Senator, Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat. The Republican campaigned against abortion rights, gay marriage and President Obama's healthcare legislation, which is said to have put off independents in the state. Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), was also beaten in Connecticut's Senate race despite spending as much as $28m on her campaign. Another $22m went on helping her win the Republican primary.

Democrat stalwarts

Many big names once thought unbeatable were defeated, such as the liberal favourite, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and Representatives Rick Boucher of Virginia and Chet Edwards of Texas, who fell to little-known Republican candidates. Mr Boucher, a 14-term incumbent, lost easily to Morgan Griffith in a race that largely pivoted on his support for the Democratic Party's cap-and-trade energy legislation. Mr Edwards, who has spent 20 years in Congress, lost to Bill Flores in a landslide. In his concession speech, the Democrat said he could "swim against a strong current, but not against a tidal wave". Mr Feingold, a three-term senator, lost by 100,000 votes to businessman Ron Johnson, who entered the race after being angered by the healthcare bill.

Christine O'Donnell

A star of the Tea Party movement and endorsed by Sarah Palin, Ms O'Donnell pulled off one of the biggest electoral upsets of the year by beating the favourite, Mike Castle, in the Republican Party's Senate primary in Delaware. But allegations of financial mismanagement, as well as a series of gaffes and revelations from her past - including TV clips that showed her admitting to "dabbling" in witchcraft and equating masturbation to adultery - saw her candidacy become a national joke. In the end, she lost to Democrat Chris Coons by 17 percentage points.

Dope smokers

Voters in California rejected the legalisation of marijuana. Projections showed a firm vote against Proposition 19, which would have allowed adults to possess up to 28g (1oz) of cannabis for personal use. Local authorities would also have been able to permit commercial growing. Opponents said it was a badly-written law that would cause chaos.

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