— In Virginia, the black vote was roughly half again as big in percentage terms as nationally, also an aid to Obama.
Changes are in store for the victorious administration. The election past, three members of Obama’s Cabinet have announced plans to leave their posts: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Other changes would not be unusual in the second administration of any president.
As for Congress, Democrats improbably gained seats in re-establishing their Senate majority. Their final margin hinged on a decision by independent Sen.-elect Angus King of Vermont, who has not yet said which party he will affiliate with.
The election was the second in a row in which Republicans lost potentially winnable races after nominating candidates who articulated views that voters evidently judged as too extreme. Two years ago, tea party-backed insurgents were defeated in Nevada, Colorado and Delaware. This year, senior Republicans watched in disbelief as Rep. Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana flamed out after making incendiary comments about rape.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said his party has ‘‘a period of reflection and recalibration ahead.’’ In a statement issued before the extent of GOP losses was known, he added, ‘‘While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight.’’
There were 13 House races that remained too close to call, leaving the final size of the Republicans’ majority in doubt. They won at least 232 seats and led for two more, a trend that would translate to a net loss of 8 from the current lineup.
In defeat, Democrats pointed to races where they turned tea party-backed conservatives out of power as evidence they had stemmed a tide.
Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Chicago and Donna Cassata, Larry Margasak and Andrew Taylor in Washington contributed to this story.