Obama, GOP size up midterm elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Voters have given Republicans control of both houses of Congress for the next two years, the last two years of the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.

The GOP won back the Senate by taking at least seven seats now held by Democrats. Three races are undecided.

The Republicans will have at least 52 seats in the new senate. The Democrats, at least 45.

Mitch McConnell is expected to be the new majority leader. Today, both he and the president said they'll try to work together to get things done. Try.

After another midterm election drubbing, President Obama pledged no fundamental changes in his White House team or its tactics.

"It's my job to figure this out as best I can," Mr. Obama said at a Wednesday news conference. "And if the way we are talking about issues isn't working, then I'm going to try some different things. There are times when you're a politician and you're disappointed with election results, but maybe I'm just getting older. It doesn't make me mopey. It energizes me."

The president said he will seek bipartisan compromise with the incoming Republican Congress. But he also vowed to act unilaterally to shield millions of undocumented workers from deportation by the end of this year.

"What I'm not going to do is just wait," Mr. Obama said. "I think it's fair to say that I have shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible."

The likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky warned executive action on immigration reform would poison the well for any future compromises.

"It's like waving a red flag in front of the bull to say 'If you guys don't do what I want, I'm going to do it on my own,'" he said.

The president said he was hopeful he could cut deals with Republicans on trade, infrastructure and tax reform. McConnell said Republicans are looking to compromise on trade and tax reform too, but no specifics are on the table.

"What I'd like to do is to hear from the Republicans, is to find out what it is that they would like to see happen," Mr. Obama said.

President Obama also asked that Congress, in its upcoming lame duck session, approve $6 billion in emergency funds to fight Ebola and provide new legal authority for the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Obama and McConnell do not have a strong personal relationship and a year ago the president joked about the absurdity of negotiating with McConnell over a drink. Now,the president says he wants to share some Kentucky bourbon with the senator. Anticipating the question, White House advisers insisted that no bourbon summit is planned.

For Republicans, Tuesday's heady victories gave way to a sober reality the day after, as they inherit a deeply gridlocked body.

"The Senate in the last couple of years basically doesn't do anything," McConnell told reporters.

McConnell vowed to start sending bills to the president's desk right away. One approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, another eliminating a medical device tax that helps to pay for Obamacare.

"We're going to function, we are," said McConnell. "We're going to pass legislation. Some of it he may not like, but we're going to function."

McConnell will preside over a GOP majority that's even larger than most pollsters predicted.

The party picked up seats not just in GOP strongholds like South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. It also won big in battleground states.

Iowa's Joni Ernst won by eight points. Colorado's Cory Gardner won by four, defeating sitting Sen. Mark Udall.

"The voters around this state had their voices heard," said Gardner. "They are not red, they are not blue. They are crystal, crystal clear in their message to Washington, D.C. - get your job done and get the heck out of the way."

Southern Senate Democrats are now an endangered species. North Carolina's Kay Hagan was defeated. Mark Pryor of Arkansas lost by 18 points. And Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, whose race is going to a runoff, trails in the polls. So, she hit the campaign trail again Wednesday.

Republican incumbents by contrast didn't lose a single race, including in Kansas where three-term Sen. Pat Roberts survived a tough challenge from Independent Greg Orman.

"Our conservative Republican solutions will now see the light of day," said Roberts.

McConnell's assertion that he wants to work with the president was met with skepticism by Democrats who said that he was a key contributor to congressional gridlock. The few times he tried to meet the president halfway, conservative members of his party yanked him back.