WASHINGTON — House Republicans were headed to a second straight victory Tuesday, ensuring the GOP retains a legislative stronghold to push a conservative agenda of fiscal austerity regardless of who won the presidency.
After Democrats and Republicans spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to define — and defend — the "tea party Congress," House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was poised to emerge from Tuesday's elections with limited losses and possible gains.
By holding on to the House, Boehner ensures that his conservative caucus will be a key player in fiscal negotiations in the months ahead, probably renewing its legislative clash with Senate Democrats, who are favored to maintain control of the upper chamber.
Boehner vowed to continue the conservative track that House Republicans have taken the past two years, arguing that the expected results were a validation of their approach.
"Over the last two years, the Republicans in the House have listened to the American people and followed their will. But we've had no cooperation from the Senate and no cooperation from the White House," Boehner said after casting his ballot in the southwestern Ohio district he has represented for 22 years.
Strategists in each party, as well as independent analysts, projected a similar result to the 242-193 margin that resulted from the 2010 midterm elections, with Democrats still hopeful to pick up a net gain of a handful of seats.
The expected Democratic defeat left in doubt the political future of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who for months had publicly and privately predicted huge gains for Democrats and a possible recapture of the chamber's majority. Pelosi allies have signaled that she is likely to remain in her leadership post should GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney win. But they have indicated that she may relinquish her leadership role if President Barack Obama is re-elected and Senate Democrats remain in charge.