As Americans, politicians and pundits sift through the results of the voting yesterday, the one thing heavy on everyone's mind is the question: What's next?
President Barack Obama in a one-hour nationally televised press conference that found him at times reflective and somber but still able to laugh, particularly after taking what he called a "shellacking" at the polls, refused to accept that the vote was a rejection of his policies.
Instead, the president described voters' decision to hand control of the House of Representatives to Republicans as a demonstration of "their great frustration that we have not made enough progress on the economy. They can not feel progress and they cannot see it," Obama said. "I've got to take direct responsibility. We have not made as much progress as we could have made."
The president added that now it is a matter of the Democrats and the Republicans sitting down to develop core areas of agreement on issues they can agree on such as alleviating our dependence on foreign oil, and educating American children so that they are equiped to compete in the global economy.
David A. Bositis, Ph.D., senior research associate with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and an expert on national Black Electoral Politics in Washington, D.C., agrees with the president that the election results were about the economy.
"If you look at the exit polls, you will see that it's about the economy, especially insecurity about the economy. Eighty-five percent of people who voted said they were worried about their personal economic situation and half of those said they were very worried," pointed out Bositis.
"This election was about punishing the people in power, and the people in power were, of course, the Democrats," added the political observer.
Why Democrats lost depends on who you talk to.
Lorenzo Morris, Ph.D., a political science professor at Howard University, says the Democrats really did very little to mobilize the youthful base that help them win the presidency in 2008. He also said they waited too late to begin the kind of heavy-duty stumping done in the final two weeks before the election. They were also tremendously outspent in terms of campaign advertising money pumped into Republican races by corporate interests.
But don't consider these election results a replay of 1994, admonishes professor Morris, who said that loss was a huge setback for Clinton and was followed by two years of immobility and impasses as he battled Republicans to push his agenda.
When he was re-elected two years later, Morris said his agenda turned more conservative.
Morris does not think that Obama will face the same kind of partisan divide that Clinton faced, in part, because he believes the conservatives elected to office this term are much less organized than those elected by Newt Gingrich and his Contract for America brigade.
"This group of people, they are so disorganized. They're like free electrons knocking into each other. They just lucked out," contends Morris. "They are not connected by any sense of party unity. The Republicans will be lucky, if they have an impasse."