Analysis: Wins give GOP wider Washington influence

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Analysis: Wins give GOP wider Washington influence
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) -- With sweeping victories that exceeded their own sky-high expectations, the GOP has dealt President Barack Obama and Democrats the most devastating electoral defeat of his presidency. Their prize is full control of Congress, and with it, the power to shape the direction of America's government in the next two years.

Both parties talked Tuesday about need to compromise, but they will face tough obstacles in following through. The list is long: the already looming 2016 elections, persistent divisions within the Republican Party, and the frosty relationship between Obama and Sen. Mitch McConnell, who won re-election in Kentucky and is likely to ascend to majority leader.

"I don't expect the president to wake up tomorrow and view the world any differently than he did this morning," McConnell said at his victory party Tuesday night. "He knows I won't either."

The election puts Republicans back in power in the Senate for the first time in eight years, and alongside a GOP-led House, the party will set a legislative agenda unlike anything that would come from Obama's White House. The president's top advisers have spent weeks planning for how to deal with a Republican-led Senate. Obama will hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon, and plans to meet with congressional leaders Friday at the White House.

Republicans Surge to Control of Senate

In the rosiest of scenarios, McConnell and Obama can look for common ground in areas where their parties have overlapping interests: overhauling the nation's complicated tax code, repairing crumbling roads and bridges, and inking free-trade agreements with the European Union and Asia-Pacific nations.

"This is a new chapter in the presidency and it doesn't have to be a defeated one," said Bill Burton, a former Obama White House and campaign adviser. "We lost in a lot of places, but the truth is this could open up some real opportunity to actually get some things done."

For Obama, who has grown resentful of his diminished political standing, the prospect of reaching accords with a GOP-led Congress is a consolation prize that could help salvage his flailing second term. Republican Senate leaders may also see something to gain by showing Americans they can govern effectively, given that voters expressed dissatisfaction with their party as well with Obama, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks.

But McConnell and Republicans are likely to have plenty on their to-do list that doesn't match Obama's plans for his final years in office, including cutting budget deficits, making changes to Obama's signature health care law and approving construction of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

"We will send the president bill after bill until he wearies of it," said Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite and potential 2016 presidential candidate.

That fast-approaching campaign likely leaves McConnell and Obama a short window in which to make progress on any compromise legislation.

McConnell will be fending off pressure from prospective White House hopefuls, including Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who see little incentive to compromise with a Democratic White House as they appeal to the conservative voters who decide GOP primaries. Republican opposition to the president is likely to only deepen if the president accelerates his use of executive actions, including presidential directives on immigration that are expected before the end of the year.

Obama, too, will be battling internal party politics. He may no longer be able to count on full support from Democrats who are unlikely to want to help the GOP look effective in governing during the lead-up to a presidential contest. Tuesday's elections also strip him of some of the more moderate members of his caucus, such as Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, leaving him with more liberal members who have fewer overlapping priorities with Republicans.

The White House was silent as Republicans racked up one win after another Tuesday and won control of the Senate hours - if not days - before almost anyone expected. Privately, there was frustration among some advisers that Democrats wary of being associated with Obama largely sidelined the increasingly unpopular president throughout the campaign. That strategy did little to stem losses in places where Obama showed prowess in his runs for president, including Colorado, Iowa and Florida.

For Democrats, the one silver lining in Tuesday's elections is that they are now over. Attention can now turn to 2016, when the Senate contests will largely take place in states that are traditionally more favorable to Democrats.

And while they may still fret about being saddled with an unpopular president at their party's helm, many are already prepared to move on. An announcement from Hillary Rodham Clinton, the political juggernaut who appears poised to run to replace Obama, is expected around the end of the year.

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