On the verge: Republicans bid for Senate control

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Midterm Election 2014 - Vote - Midterms
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On the verge: Republicans bid for Senate control
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 4: U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrates with his wife Elaine Chao at his election night event November 4, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. McConnell defeated Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 04: Democratic Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) speaks to supporters following her defeat to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) November 4, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky. McConnell's victory will leave him as the likely Senate Majority Leader in a potential new Republican majority of the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 4: U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrates with his wife Elaine Chao at his election night event November 4, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. McConnell defeated Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue talks with members of the media during a gathering for his son and Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue at the the InterContinental Buckhead on November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Perdue is running in a tight race against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. (Photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue greets members of his family during a gathering for his son and Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue at the the InterContinental Buckhead on November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Perdue is running in a tight race against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. (Photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette meets with the reporters before the start of the Democratic election event. Democrat Party election night at the Westin November 4, 2014 in Denver. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, IA - NOVEMBER 4: Democratic Senate Candidate Bruce Braley's mother Marcia Braley (L) casts her ballot at the Community Center November 4, 2014 in Braley's hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Braley is in a tight race against Republican Senate Candidate Joni Ernst. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, right, talks with a supporter as he arrives an election-night party for his daughter, Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., joined by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, celebrates with his supporters at an election night party in Louisville, Ky.,Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. McConnell won a sixth term in Washington, with his eyes on the larger prize of GOP control of the Senate. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, fighting off a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could determine the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., joined by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, celebrates with his supporters at an election night party in Louisville, Ky.,Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. McConnell won a sixth term in Washington, with his eyes on the larger prize of GOP control of the Senate. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, fighting off a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could determine the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., holds a sign he said was given him by his father former Sen. David Pryor at a rally for campaign volunteers and workers in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. Pryor is being challenged by Republican Congressman Tom Cotton. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., speaks during a political rally in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. Pryor is being challenged by Republican Congressman Tom Cotton. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., right, is interviewed as his wife Anna watches in Conway, Ark., Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Cotton is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in the Nov. 4, election. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, answers a question during a televised debate at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is interviewed at a Real Clear Politics event in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., left, greets Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, far right, as Green Party candidate Mark Swaney walks past after a televised debate at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown, and his wife Gail Huff greet volunteers on election day from the Republican field office, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Dover, N.H. Brown is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown gives a thumbs up as he calls voters on election day from the Republican field office, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Dover, N.H. Brown is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
North Carolina Republican Senate candidate, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, right, greets a voter at a polling place in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Tillis is running against democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Republican Senate candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis talks to a voter while making calls from his campaign office in Cornelius, N.C., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. Tillis is running against Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), right, celebrate with supporters during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Hagan is running for re-election against Republican candidate and North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-Maine, left, answers a question during a live televised debate with her Republican opponent, former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire waves with his wife Gail Huff as they board a bus at his campaign headquarters in Manchester, N.H. Friday Oct. 31, 2014 before starting a state wide bus tour. Brown is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., left, and former Massachusetts Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown are seen Thursday Oct. 23, 2014 before a live televised U.S. Senate debate hosted by NH1 News on WBIN TV in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
KANSAS CITY, KS October 31: Kansas U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts shares a laugh at the 'Vote the Kansas way bus tour' campaign rally at the Kansas speedway on October 31, 2014 in Kansas City Kansas (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Resurgent Republicans rode a powerful wave of voter discontent toward possible control of the Senate and a stronger grip on the House Tuesday night in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama's final two years in office.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, dispatched Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are "hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful," said the man in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda if his party gains control.

Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. A few hours later, Sen. Mark Udall lost a re-election bid in Colorado to Rep. Cory Gardner.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was the GOP winner for a Senate seat in West Virginia, the first of her party to make that claim since 1956. Former Gov. Mike Rounds triumphed in South Dakota for still another seat currently in Democratic hands, and Rep. Steve Daines followed suit in Montana.

Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy forced Sen. Mary Landrieu into a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.

The Republicans needed to gain six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006.

Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.

A shift in control of the Senate would likely result in a strong GOP assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama's signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.

There were 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot, and several incumbents struggled against challengers. Tom Wolf captured the Pennsylvania statehouse for the Democrats, defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

In a footnote to one of the year's biggest political surprises, college professor Dave Brat was elected to the House from Virginia, several months after he defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.

House Republicans also picked up a Democratic seat held by a retiring Democrat in North Carolina, and bid for more.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had little opposition in coasting to a 13th term and is likely to retain his top leadership post.

After years of a sluggish economic recovery and foreign crises aplenty, the voters' mood was sour.

Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed after casting ballots said the country was seriously on the wrong track. Only about 30 percent said it was generally going in the right direction.

More than four in ten voters disapproved of both Obama and Congress, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.

Still, a majority of those polled supported several positions associated with Democrats or Obama rather than Republicans - saying immigrants in the country illegally should be able to work, backing U.S. military involvement against Islamic State fighters, and agreeing that climate change is a serious problem.

No matter which party emerged with control of the Senate, a new chapter in divided government was inevitable in a nation marked by profound unease over the future and dissatisfaction with its political leaders.

Several Senate races were close, a list that - surprisingly - included Virginia.

There, former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie held a narrow lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.

There was better news for Democrats in New Hampshire, where Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was re-elected after a difficult race against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was in a tight race with challenger Thom Tillis.

There were competitive races also in Georgia, Iowa, Alaska and - improbably - Kansas, where 78-year-old Sen. Pat Roberts faced a challenger from independent Greg Orman.

The runoff in Louisiana and likelihood of another in Georgia raised the possibility that neither party would be able to claim victory by the day after Election Day.

There were 36 Senate races on the ballot, although most of the attention went to fewer than a dozen. They drew hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads in a campaign season estimated to cost more than $4 billion - just for the races for Congress.

In statehouse races, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York won a second term.

Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson was elected governor of Arkansas more than a decade after playing a prominent role in President Bill Clinton's impeachment and trial, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott won a tough race for a new term.

Also winning new terms were Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and potential presidential candidates in 2016.

Another possible White House hopeful, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, led his rival, Mary Burke.

Not even Democrats claimed a chance to topple the Republican House majority. They spent the campaign's final days dispatching money to districts where incumbents suddenly found themselves in danger.

Republicans sought to downplay any expectation of large gains. A pickup of 13 would give them more seats in the House than at any time since 1946.

The elections' $4 billion price tag spending was unprecedented for a non-presidential year.

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