This Republican-Democrat contest was the hottest in years as voters debated over which candidates would be the most likely to lift the United States out of a morass marked by near-double-digit unemployment, sluggish economic growth and a terrifying $1.29 trillion budget deficit.
Although Republicans were poised to take control of Congress, a significant number of seats remained vulnerable until the very end.
Experts described this campaign season as more volatile than most because of a possible major shift in power.
Experts predicted the GOP would easily nab some seats in industrial states, where the recessionary fallout has turned voters against Democratic incumbents.
"The political climate is dominated by the economy," Nathan Gonzales, who tracks state races for the Rothenberg Political Report, told Bloomberg. "That's where Democrats are getting hurt."
Republicans successfully attracted voters by criticizing the U.S. economic malaise, including:
- An economic growth rate that's stumbled from 5% at the end of last year to a wheezing 1.7% in the second quarter.
- U.S. President Barack Obama's continued spending, such as a $787 billion economic stimulus package and $940 billion in healthcare reform.
- ?A 9.6% unemployment rate that won't budge.
Other ! concerns left for after the elections include the Bush tax cuts, a stagnant housing market and ongoing energy issues like offshore drilling.