President Barack Obama may have snagged the White House for a second term unexpectedly early on Tuesday night, but the fate of the U.S. House of Representatives was far less obvious during the waning hours of Nov. 6.
Following the announcement of Obama’s projected win, news networks predicted the U.S. government would maintain its status quo: A Democratic president, with a Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House.
The fate of several key congressional races was still a tossup on Tuesday night, but the Republican leadership remained intact with the re-election of both House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Although Rep. Paul Ryan's hopes to take the vice presidency were dashed, he managed to retain his seat in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who was recently criticized by the Humane Society for opposing federal legislation to outlaw animal fighting, also retained his seat for another term.
Democrats made some gains in the House. Joe Kennedy III, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, beat his Republican challenger to win Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District, taking over current Rep. Barney Frank’s seat (Frank, a Democratic and gay leader, is retiring.)
Meanwhile, former Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, Democrat who was ousted from his seat in the 2010 midterm elections, returned to Congress, winning Florida’s newly Democratic 9th Congressional District. And Joaquin Castro, the identical twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro who was the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention, was elected to succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Gonzalez to represent Texas’ 20th Congressional District.
In one of the biggest successes for Democrats, the House lost one of the least popular conservatives elected during the Tea Party wave in the 2010 midterms -- Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois. The Republican was defeated by his Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, a former Veterans Affairs Administration official and U.S. Army National Guard Reserve veteran who lost both legs during the Iraq War.