The Winners And Losers Of '06

Democratic Party supporters cheer at the news that the party has won the 15 necessary seats to take over the House of Representatives at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill November 7, 2006 in Washington, DC. Mid-term elections take place across the U.S. today with the balance of power in Congress at stake.
This story was written by's James Klatell.
The Democratic Party won big on Election Day 2006. The Democrats took control of the House and a majority of governor's mansions across the nation – and still may take control of the Senate.

Although President George W. Bush has two years left in his second term, the political balance has shifted. After being locked out of power in Washington for most of the last 12 years, Democrats will be able to take some control of the agenda.

A Capitol Hill even half dominated by Democrats would erect a bedeviling barrier to the remaining items on his presidential agenda. It would also raise the specter of possible investigations into his pre-Iraq war use of intelligence, post-Sept. 11 expansion of executive power and other issues.

"Bush will also have to work with Democratic leaders who don't like him and don't trust him," said CBS News political analyst Norm Ornstein. "And the feeling is mutual."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi will become the Speaker of the House when the next Congress begins. San Francisco's representative will be the nation's first female Speaker.

"Today we have made history," she said, "now let us make progress."

But Pelosi is not the only big winner. Committee chairmanships across the Capital will change hands in January, and with the House majority comes the ability to hold hearings and subpoena.

"Remember that it's payback time," said CBS News consultant Sam Best, who is the director of the Center for Survey Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut. "There were a number of investigations against the Clinton administration and now it might be time to even the score."

Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were the architects of their party's campaigns and should get some of the credit.

"Rahm is definitely the Rock Star," said CBS News consultant Dotty Lynch. "At age 47, he is in great position to become a leader for a long time."

Possibly the biggest winner is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) lost in the Democratic primary and was forced to run for re-election as an Independent. Lieberman turned his campaign around and beat the Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in the general election.

"This is going to be a very closely divided Senate, no matter who ends up controlling it," said CBS News' Bob Schieffer. "And everybody is going to be courting Joe Lieberman. And don't forget, he doesn't owe a lot to Democrats because once he lost that primary, they all turned against him."

There will be big losers as well after these midterm elections. Current Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and the Republican leadership will have personal losses as well.

Hastert didn't have much to say about his future as he won his 11th term. "It's been kind of tough out there," conceded Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Rep. Tom Reynolds, who directed the House Republicans' national campaign, will keep his seat, barely fending off his Democratic challenger in upstate New York. But the loss of GOP control of the House could seriously undercut his clout in Washington.

Sen. Rick Santorum – once the poster boy for the conservative Republicans who stormed Congress in the 90s – lost his big for re-election. It was the first defeat for the staunch conservative who rose so quickly through the ranks in Washington.

And what about the president? Is Mr. Bush a lame duck?

"You could make the case that this is an opportunity for Bush," said Ornstein, who is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "It gives Bush an opportunity to create a majority in the middle."

The White House has already made plans for the president to call Pelosi first thing in the morning

Looking beyond the president's second term, there's a split decision on how the 2006 vote will affect the 2008 vote.

"Hillary Clinton is in good shape," Best said. "It's clear that women leaned toward Democrats and Bill Clinton seems to have been a success. He's the horse pulling the Democratic cart."

Nicole Wallace, a former advisor to the Bush White House, said that the brightest light for the Democrats was Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton.

"He turned out to be a real star in Iowa, which is political gold when you're heading into a presidential election cycle," Wallace, now a CBS News consultant said. "And the loser was Hillary – all the oxygen that Obama took up was to her detriment."

But, a midterm victory doesn't necessarily pave a Democrat's way to the Oval Office.

"This set Democrats up for 2008 when they will have to come up with a positive agenda," Lynch said. "They won this time by demanding change and avoiding a lot of specifics. To win the White House, they will have to have a program."

Best said, "Republicans can spend the next two years pointing the finger at the Democrats for blocking their initiatives."
By James Klatell