The morning after has headaches aplenty to go around.
For Democrats, it's hard to find any positives in the election results. Going into Tuesday's voting, they knew the cards were stacked against them in Senate elections — an unpopular president, more seats to defend to keep control of the Senate, and an anti-incumbent mood from coast to coast. Even so, Tuesday's shellacking was worse than most analysts expected. Republicans even managed wide victory margins in races that were supposed to be close in Kentucky and Georgia.
Few people expected Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Republicans needed to win only six seats to achieve majority status. But the GOP's seven gains were more than most expected, with a few races yet to be decided.
North Carolina's Senate race was perhaps the most surprising of the lot. Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan had maintained a narrow lead in nearly every poll leading up to Tuesday's vote. Early returns had her in the lead by single-digit percentages. But Republican Thom Tillis ended up with the most votes at the end of the night. Hagan had been seen as vulnerable almost since she won the seat in 2008. Her Senate record was undistinguished, and she was closely allied with an unpopular president.
And then there was the outside money. More than $100 million was spent on this election, most of it by outside interests on both the Republican and Democratic sides. Nearly all of the advertising was negative — ads attacking Hagan for being too much like Obama or attacking Tillis for controversial laws passed by the state House that he led.
Having Republicans in charge of both chambers of Congress will bring changes, but only the naive will think partisanship will wane. President Obama can be combative, and he is likely to veto Republican legislation that comes to his desk, setting off more controversy. The GOP Congress might feel empowered to place limits on the president's ability to establish policy through executive orders and other administrative actions, creating more conflicts.
Clashes are inevitable, and the 2016 presidential elections will hang over every day of the next 104 weeks.