Riding a wave of discontent with Obama and his policies, Republicans netted at least seven Senate contests, more than the six needed to gain an upper hand in the second chamber with a 52-44 tally and could possibly win two more in Alaska and Louisiana.
In the 435-member House of Representatives, where all the seats were up for election, the Republicans already in charge gained at least 11 seats to increase their 233-199 lead to 244-177.
A divided government with Republicans controlling the legislative wing and Democrats in charge of the administration would further tighten the gridlock in Washington.
On the other hand, observers believe that the situation may induce both sides to make compromises in a spirit of give and take to move forward on issues like immigration reforms and trade, both of interest to India.
The results raised fresh questions about Obama’s ability to work with the Republican lawmakers, wrote Peter Orszag of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
“We should expect continuation of not very much from Washington. Inaction, to be sure, is better than drama,” he wrote for the Bloomberg View.
“Now that power has changed hands in the Senate, there are two scenarios for what is likely to get done in Washington over the next couple of years: not much, and nothing at all,” agreed Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post.
“The new Republican majority was elected with virtually no agenda beyond stopping President Obama’s — something the GOP (Republican) senators were already pretty successful at doing as the minority,” she wrote.
The New York Times also suggested that “Negativity” had won the Senate for the Republicans.
They, it said “would like the country to believe that they took control of the Senate on Tuesday by advocating a strong, appealing agenda of job creation, tax reform and spending cuts. But, in reality, they did nothing of the sort.”
Obama, whose job approval rating has fallen to 45 percent, will make a public statement on the results Wednesday afternoon and meet leaders of both parties Friday.
The first wave of exit polls analysed by CNN Tuesday evening show dissatisfaction with the Obama administration.
Roughly six in 10 voters are either angry or dissatisfied with Obama, though about the same proportion feel the same way about Republican leaders in Congress. And most voters have an unfavourable view of both parties.