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Five things we learned from the US midterms

Bad night for Obama, but what else happened?

Obama Ebola Source: AP/Press Association Images

IT WAS A bad night for Barack Obama.

But it was a good night for Republicans, liberals (really) and, possibly, Hillary Clinton.

Here’s what we learned as the GOP took the Senate, the largest House majority since 1946 and a number of key gubernatoral battles.

It was Mitch McConnell’s night

Senate Kentucky Source: AP/Press Association Images

In July, McConnell was the Senate minority leader of the least popular congress ever whose Kentucky seat was under threat.

He held just a one point advantage on Alison Lundergan Grimes and early polling suggested that the Democrats would hold enough seats to retain a Senate majority.

Last night, after he had beaten Grimes by 15.5% of the vote, McConnell took the stage in Louisville as the Senate Majority Leader, a man with a mandate to obstruct the man he set out to make a one-term President.

It wasn’t just that Republicans won. It was that they took seven of the eight closest seats, only losing New Hampshire, where even former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s prophecy that ISIS agents could smuggle Ebola across the border was enough.

In Nevada, Colorado and North Carolina, incumbent Democrats lost out. Stars of the party Kay Hagan (NC) and Mark Udall (CO) wake up today unemployed.

It could even get worse if Mary Landrieu doesn’t hold on to her seat in the Louisiana runoff election.

Make no mistake, the Democrats were hammered.

Bad news for Obama and Obamacare

Health Overhaul Republicans Source: AP/Press Association Images

Republicans were winning away from Congress, too.

They held the two biggest prizes in the gubernatorial races: Wisconsin and Florida. Those two could prove a massive blow for Obama.

Part of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature piece of legislation, includes a massive expansion of Medicaid, a social programme for those on low incomes.

Those expansions, however, can only be enacted at state levels – by the Governor.

Last night, races were held in a number of states that could have extended Medicaid to 4.8 million people.

Republicans won in Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, Maine and Kansas. Of those, only Rick Scott of Florida had endorsed the move. In Florida, that would mean health coverage for over 800,000 people earning under $16,000 a year.

However, Scott never advocated for it strongly and is now unlikely to enact it.

It was a good night for minorities and women

Across America, unlikely candidates scored wins.

It wasn’t all bad for liberals

Although the red wave toppled over the Democratic Party, liberal ballot initiatives across America passed.

Arkansas and Nebraska will both raise the minimum wage to $8.50 in 2017, and $9 in 2016, respectively. That is up from the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

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Colorado rejected an amendment that would have made it a criminal offence to have an abortion, while North Dakota rejected one that would have granted “the inalienable right to life for humans at any stage of development”.

Tennessee, however went the other way, enacting an amendment that will ban abortions in all cases, including when the health of a mother is in jeopardy.

Oregon and Washington DC voted to legalise marijuana, but Florida voted against it. Washington state voted for background checks for those wishing to buy guns.

2016 starts now

Senate Louisiana Source: Gerald Herbert

As bad as last night was for Democrats, it could open the door for Hillary Clinton.

Having already run against Obama in 2008, she can use the road to 2016 to present herself as an alternative to the current President.

If her camp were paying attention last night, they will have noticed that the American public won’t be prompted to the polls by social imperatives like the “War on Women”, but will vote on the economy.

By aping her husband’s 1996 campaign, which focused on America’s middle classes, Clinton could set herself apart from the field. One of her challengers, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley suffered losses in his state that call into question his ability to attract votes.

On the Republican side, the big winner is Scott Walker, who held on to his Wisconsin again (he survived a 2012 recall election).

Walker is popular among conservatives for facing down organised labour in Wisconsin and winning and wouldn’t commit to serving his new four year term, telling the Green Bay Press Gazette:

“I’ve never made a time commitment anywhere I’ve been in office. I’ve always made promises about what I would do and how I would do it. I’m not going to change now.”

Read: So, how did that “I am not Barack Obama” ad work out?

Read: Disaster for Obama as Republicans win US Senate

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