US Midterms 2014: Republicans win US Senate majority easily, in historic defeat for Democrats

Voters fill in their ballots as they vote in the US midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado on Nov 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Voters fill in their ballots as they vote in the US midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado on Nov 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

THE Republicans took control of the United States Senate with ease, marking a historic defeat for the Democrats in Tuesday's midterm elections and signalling even more problems for President Barack Obama in his final two years in office.

With a win in Iowa, the Republican party picked up at least six Senate seats to guarantee at least 51 members of the 100-member chamber, TV networks said, while projecting an increase in the GOP majority in the House of Representatives. A Reuters projection showed Republicans will hold at least 52 seats after the election.

Barring any unexpected Republican losses, the party will hold both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which it lost in 2006, and this will undoubtedly affect important pieces of legislation and President Obama's appointments - for example in the supreme court.

In the last 24 hours before polls opened, most analysts and models had correctly predicted that Republicans - who needed to net six seats - had at least a 60 per cent chance of winning and there were no major upsets to overturn their calls.

Leading the way for his party was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who marked the first big Republican victory of the night by beating Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.

"I pledge you this...I've heard your concerns, I've made them my own, you will be heard in Washington," said Mr McConnell after securing his win.

As the night wore on, Democratic incumbents continued to lose ground, ceding seats in Arkansas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and North Carolina.

In Colorado, a state where President Obama had won twice, Republican Cory Gardner beat incumbent Mark Udall.

In Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton defeated Senator Mark Pryor, making Mr Cotton, a farm boy with a Harvard Law Degree, the youngest member of the senate at age 37.

Like many of his Republican colleagues Mr Cotton worked hard to align his challenger with Mr Obama, whose job approval ratings hit an all-time low of 40 per cent in October according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Many other Democratic candidates also distanced themselves from the president and his policies as he stuck to fund-raising and campaigning in more clear-cut blue states such as Michigan during the election cycle.

Finally, Republicans took control when Ms Joni Ernst won in Iowa, according to Fox News projections.Ms Ernst, 44, a state senator and an Iraq war veteran, defeated US Representative Bruce Braley in the race to succeed retiring Democrat Senator Tom Harkin. She will be the first woman to represent Iowa in the Senate.

With input from AFP and Reuters