Senate control is top prize in midterm elections

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Senate candidates
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Senate control is top prize in midterm elections
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. talks to supporters during a campaign stop, at the cafe inside Gibson's Bookstore, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 in Concord, N.H. The incumbent U.S. Senator is seeking re-election against former Massachusetts Sen. Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown shakes hands during a campaign stop at MacKenna's Restaurant, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 in New London, N.H. Brown is trying to unseat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., greets supporters on his final campaign stop at the Warren County Regional Airport in Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, would ascend to majority leader if he holds his seat and Republicans take control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Kentucky democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes addresses a group of supporters during a rally in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. pours a glass of water while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, before the Senate subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing to examine the safety and security of drinking water supplies following the Central West Virginia drinking water crisis. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Republican Senate candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst greets a supporter during a campaign stop Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Ankeny, Iowa. Ernst is running against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Ottumwa, Iowa. Braley is running against Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Georgia U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, right, greets supporters at a campaign field office, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate David Perdue speaks to sup[porters at a rally at Dekalb Peachtree Airport Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts talks to supporters at the Johnson County Republican headquarters Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Overland Park, Kan. Incumbent Roberts is locked in a tough contest with independent candidate Greg Orman in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Independent senate candidate Greg Orman talks to supporters during a campaign event Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Orman is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in the Nov. 4, midterm elections. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker prepare for a televised debate against Democratic challenger Mary Burke (not pictured) Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the WMVS-TV studio in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Benny Sieu)
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2014 file photo, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke waves to a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop in the Wisconsin Governor, in Milwaukee. President Barack Obama is making a rare appearance on the campaign trail to help the Democratic challenger to Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin's hotly contested race. Obama was scheduled to campaign Tuesday evening with Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycles executive and state commerce secretary who is running close against Walker. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn, File)
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[Editor's note: Above photos of candidates appear in order as listed below throughout article.]

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Public campaigning gave way to the privacy of the voting booth Tuesday with control of the Senate, the makeup of the House and three dozen governorships at stake.

President Barack Obama, his approval ratings low, was not on the ballot midway through his second term. But even he said his policies were, and Republicans rushed to agree.

"The president's policies have just flat-out failed," House Speaker John Boehner said Monday, campaigning for a 13th term in Congress and hoping for two more years as top House leader. He and other Republicans vowed to change Obama's policies, but have offered little in the way of specifics.

Democrats didn't so much defend the president as insist they were independent of him.

"There are two people on the ballot tomorrow, me and Scott Brown," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said as she made the rounds of six campaign stops on the race's final full day.

The main prize in a $4 billion campaign was control of the Senate, a contest that sprawled across three dozen states and spawned attack ads beyond counting.

A large number of competitive races combined with the possibility of runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia meant that neither party might be able to claim victory by the day after Election Day.

About 10 Senate races drew most of the attention.

In Kentucky, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell squared off with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in a race that cost more than $50 million and was relentlessly negative.

Democratic retirements gave Republicans their best pickup opportunities in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, where Rep. Shelly Moore Capito hopes to become the first member of her party to win a Senate seat in more than a half-century.

Another Democratic retirement produced a highly competitive race in Iowa between Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.

A Republican retirement in Georgia led to one of the country's most closely-watched races, between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican businessman David Perdue.

Democratic incumbents in states that Obama lost in 2012, including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, faced strong challenges. The same was true in states the president won two years ago, Colorado and New Hampshire.

The wildest wild card of all was Kansas, where 78-year-old Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is in a competitive race with independent Greg Orman.

Republicans expressed optimism about their overall chances to win control of the Senate, while Democrats countered that a costly get-out-the-vote program to encourage millions of blacks, young voters and women to vote could save their majority.

The spreading popularity of early voting produced the equivalent of an election within an election.

Early voting topped 18 million ballots in 32 states, and both parties seized on the number as evidence of their own strength.

In Wisconsin, early ballots were more than double the number from the previous midterms in 2010, evidence of high voter interest in the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

There was little suspense about House races, beyond the size of the new Republican majority. A gain of 13 seats would give the GOP its largest representation since it stood at 246 in 1946.

All 435 House seats were on Tuesday's ballot. Democrats concentrated on protecting their incumbents, a strategy that meant tacitly conceding races in Utah, New York and North Carolina where retirements created opportunities for Republicans to pad their majority.

"Not one of our incumbents is down or out," said New York Rep. Steve Israel, who heads House Democrats' campaign organization.

There were 36 gubernatorial contests, and an unusual number of incumbents appeared to be struggling heading into the election.

Obama raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates over the past two years, but candidates in state after state decided not to be photographed by his side. Obama was in eight states in the campaign's final days, hoping to help gubernatorial candidates in Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine.

The races played out against a backdrop of changes in election law in some states.

Republicans said they were designed to prohibit voting fraud. Democrats said the changes were aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting ballots.

The elections were the last act of a campaign that featured a primary season in which establishment Republican candidates went head-to-head with tea party challengers in several states.

Not a single Senate Republican lost a primary, easing fears of party leaders who worried about a replay of 2010 and 2012. Both times the GOP lost seats that were winnable - and a chance at a Senate majority - because unelectable candidates made it through the primary only to lose on Election Day.

31 PHOTOS
Obama midterm election
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Senate control is top prize in midterm elections
President Barack Obama waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arriving at JFK International Airport Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama salutes military personnel as he walks down the stairs from Air Force One upon arrival at JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, leaves JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The president is in New York to attend fundraisers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama, salutes Marines honor guards as he disembarks from Marine One to switch to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, for a trip to New York City and Greenwich, Conn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama signs the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama smiles after signing the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. With him from left are Arilma St. Clair, president of the DC Chapter of the National Assoc. of Hispanic Nurses, Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President, Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., Jean Moody Williams, CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Deputy Director, and Larry Minnix, CEO and President of Leading Age. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. From left are, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the president and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama speaks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterrans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington. (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - Arthur Wilson, President of DVLMF, left, President Barack Obama, Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, Lois Pope Chairman of the DVLMF and Robert Vogel Superintendent , National Mall and Memorial Parks, attend the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
First lady Michelle Obama applauds after speaking at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, where he spoke about the economy. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama works the rope line after delivering remarks at Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama, left, greets Lois Pope, Chairman DVLMF during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press after a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama met with the national security team and senior staff on stopping the outbreak of Ebola. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama and Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke wave during a at a campaign event for Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - This April 28, 2014 file photo showsU.S. President Barack Obama toasting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, during a state dinner at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, following the signing of the Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The Obama administration is still chipping away at its grand plan for a rebalance to Asia that began within months of Obama taking office in 2009, when the U.S. signed a cooperation treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (AP Photo/Francis R. Malasig, Pool)
President Barack Obama greets actor Gary Sinise, right, during the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke during a campaign rally at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama (4th L) greets supporters at a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (R) at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Jennifer Beall, founder & CEO of CleanBeeBaby, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats, listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Biden is on a six-city swing that includes stops in Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington state. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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