published Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Rubio, Paul lead GOP surge on expected big night

WASHINGTON — Republicans gained a Senate seat in Indiana and powered to leads in 10 House districts currently held by Democrats in midterm elections Tuesday night, early fruits of a drive to break the Democrats’ grip on power in Congress.

Tea party favorites Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida coasted to easy Senate victories, overcoming months of withering Democratic attacks on their conservative views.

All 435 seats in the House were on the ballot, plus 37 in the Senate in an election shadowed by recession and stirred by a rebellion of tea party conservatives.

An additional 37 governors’ races gave Republicans ample opportunity for further gains halfway through President Barack Obama’s term.

Interviews with voters revealed an extraordinarily sour electorate, stressed financially and poorly disposed toward the president, the political parties and the federal government.

About four in 10 voters said they were worse off financially than two years ago, according to preliminary exit poll results and pre-election surveys. More than one in three said their votes were an expression of opposition to Obama, but more than half expressed negative views about both political parties. Roughly 40 percent of voters considered themselves supporters of the conservative tea party movement. By contrast, about three in four expressed negative views about the federal government. Less than half said they wanted the government to do more to solve problems.

The preliminary findings were based on Election Day and pre-election interviews with more than 9,000 voters.

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