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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

DIVIDED CONGRESS

Democrats held control of the Senate, handing Republicans a string of stinging defeats for the second campaign season in a row. The final balance of power depended on the results of tight races in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota, but it was clear the Democrats would maintain a majority and could even add to the 53 seats they and their independent allies control.

Voters, however, left the House of Representatives firmly in Republican hands, according to projections. With the outcome of several races still unknown, the Republicans were holding at least 226 seats to the Democrats’ 173 in the 435-member House.

The results mean voters will get another divided Congress with deep divisions over pressing economic issues

FEWER VOTERS

Fewer people voted this year than four years ago, when voters shattered turnout records, preliminary figures suggest. “By and large, people didn’t show up,” said Curtis Gans, the director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. With 97 per cent of precincts reporting, AP figures showed more than 118 million people voted. In 2008, 131 million people voted, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The biggest plunge by far came in East Coast states still reeling from superstorm Sandy.

Several factors could have contributed to waning voter enthusiasm, Gans said. The 2012 race was one of the nastiest in recent memory, leaving many voters feeling turned off. Stricter voting restrictions in many states may also have kept some voters away from the polls.

Stevie’s song

When the Obama family came out on stage at the Democratic campaign centre in Chicago on Wednesday, Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered was playing in the background. It added to the peppy mood and matched the spring in the President’s steps moments before he delivered his victory speech.

Signed, Sealed has been a sort of anthem for the Obama team like Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop was for Bill Clinton and Al Gore during their campaign days.

In 2008, the Obama campaign played the 1970 soul hit frequently. No, not the many covers it has seen by the likes of Elton John and Peter Frampton. They stuck to the original. Campaign strategist David Axelrod even made it his special ring tone, which would play whenever Obama called his cellphone

INDIAN SCORE

Ami Bera is on the cusp of becoming only the third Indian American ever to be elected to the US House of Representatives. Bera, 45, had a lead of 184 votes against his Republican rival and incumbent Dan Lungren, when all the votes were counted for the Seventh Congressional District in California. Bera received 88,406 votes (50.1 per cent of the total) but was not immediately declared winner because of the slim margin. The result was put in the “Close Contest” category.

Five other Indian Americans in the fray — Ricky Gill, Syed Taj, Manan Trivedi, Upendra Chivukula and Jack Uppal — all lost.

Dalip Singh Saund in the 1950s and Bobby Jindal, a member from 2005 to 2008, are the only Indian Americans ever to be elected to the House.

EDWARD KENNEDY SEAT

In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren won a hard-fought race for the Senate, recapturing for the Democrats the seat held for almost half a century by the late Edward M. Kennedy.

“This victory belongs to you,” Warren, a favourite among liberals for her work as a consumer advocate, told cheering supporters.

The Harvard Law School professor unpopular with Wall Street promised to “hold the big guys accountable”.

The Senate seat had slipped into Republican hands when Scott P. Brown, a state legislator, won it in a special election in 2010 after Kennedy’s death.

WINNING TWEET

President Barack Obama called it — in less than 140 characters.

Around 4.15am GMT, just as the networks were beginning to call the race in his favour, Obama took to Twitter to proclaim himself the winner over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“This happened because of you. Thank you,” Obama tweeted.

 
 
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