Washington — No matter who is elected president, he's likely to find that the next Congress will remain what the current one has been for President Barack Obama — a headache.
Months of speeches, saturation TV advertising, uncountable events and more than $2 billion in campaign spending are coming together to produce a new Congress strikingly similar to the one that exists now: a House that Republicans will run with about a 50-seat margin, and a Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats.
Republicans started this year thinking they would grab control of the Senate because they were only defending 10 of the 33 seats at stake on Election Day. That seems unlikely now thanks to controversial rape statements by GOP candidates in Missouri and Indiana, the retirement of popular Maine GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, and strong races run by Democratic incumbents in Florida and Michigan.
Democrats seem certain to fall short of adding the 25 seats they need to take over the House, and at best may gain a handful of districts. With Republicans gaining governorships and state legislatures in the 2010 elections, the GOP was better able to draw new district lines reflecting the latest census to protect their incumbents and put Democratic House members in less friendly terrain.
"My sense is no one will have a mandate coming out of this," GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak said Monday. "And clearly we're going to have divided government. And that's going to make the next two years very difficult."