Capitol Hill

Charting a new course

After months of speculation, it now is official. Voters have decided to hand Congress to Democrats, ending the 12-year GOP reign in the House and delivering a sharp rebuke to President Bush. As a result, the business community will be forced to navigate its respective agenda through the turbulent seas of divided government and presidential electoral politics building up to the 2008 election.

Election results

At press time, Democrats had won at least 28 Republican-held seats without losing any of their own. The results gave Democrats a 231-196 majority, with eight races still undecided, and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will become the first female speaker of the House in January. In the Senate, Democrats picked up six Republican-held seats, giving them a 51-49 advantage and ushering in the era of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Democrats also gained heavily in gubernatorial races, picking up seven states to claim a majority nationally.

Dissatisfaction with Bush, the war in Iraq and recent Republican scandals turned the campaign into a referendum on the GOP. Corruption proved to be a more salient issue than expected—exit polls found 41 percent of voters rated corruption as being "extremely important" to their decision.