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Midwest: Region Proves to Be Friendly Ground for Democrats

It was a good night for Democrats — and most incumbents — in the nation’s heartland.

President Barack Obama again won Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, losing only previously blue Indiana to GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Democrats picked up a Republican Senate seat in the Hoosier State, while Senate Democrats in Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio all won re-election. The party also held onto the seat vacated by retiring Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl.

Democrats also picked up House seats in Illinois and Minnesota — losing only one in Indiana — and maintained the status quo elsewhere in the region.

Things went particularly well for Democrats in Obama’s home state of Illinois.

Four previously Republican House seats went to Democrats, and none flipped the other way. Former Rep. Bill Foster (D) will return to Congress after defeating Rep. Judy Biggert (R), Rep. Joe Walsh (R) lost to Tammy Duckworth (D), management consultant Brad Schneider (D) eked out a narrow victory over Rep. Robert Dold (R) and Cheri Bustos (D) unseated one-term Rep. Bobby Schilling (R).

An open-seat race in the 12th district that Roll Call rated as a Tossup went to Democrat William Enyart, and the 13th district went to Republican Rodney Davis.

Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been absent from Congress and the campaign trail since June, coasted to victory in his Chicago-area district despite being treated for bipolar disorder at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic.

Democrats lost a House seat in Indiana,  but only because its former occupant lodged a successful Senate bid.

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) defeated state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) in a Senate race that Democrats spent money on early and often.

The contest was in large part competitive because the tea-party-backed Mourdock ousted popular six-term Sen. Dick Lugar in the GOP primary. It became even more so after Mourdock said in his last debate with Donnelly that he believed pregnancy resulting from rape was something “God intended.”

Indiana Reps. Peter Visclosky (D), Marlin Stutzman (R), Todd Rokita (R), André Carson (D), Larry Bucshon (R) and Todd Young (R) all held onto their seats.

The only change occurred in the 2nd district vacated by Donnelly, where longtime state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) narrowly defeated South Bend native and veteran Brendan Mullen (D).

In Michigan, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow cruised to another term, defeating former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) by about 20 points.

Not a single House seat in Michigan changed hands, though Rep. Dan Benishek (R) won a rematch against challenger Gary McDowell (D) by just a handful of votes.

In Minnesota, the only upset was GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack’s loss to former Rep. Rick Nolan (D), who will be returning to the House after a 32-year hiatus.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) easily defeated state Rep. Kurt Bills (R) to keep her seat, and Reps. Tim Walz (D), John Kline (R), Erik Paulsen (R), Betty McCollum (D), Keith Ellison (D), Michele Bachmann (R) and Collin Peterson (D) all held onto their seats.

An effort to amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage failed.

In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown fended off a challenge from state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) in one of the most competitive and closely watched Senate races in the country.

Two House seats switched parties but did not affect the overall political makeup of the Buckeye State.

Former state Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) defeated Republican Chris Long in the 3rd district, and Republican Rep. Jim Renacci bested Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton in a Member-vs.-Member matchup in the 16th district.

Tea-party-backed newcomer Brad Wenstrup (R) easily won the redrawn 2nd district just east of Cincinnati that was previously represented by Jean Schmidt, who lost to Wenstrup in the primary.

Wisconsin elected the first openly gay member of the Senate on Tuesday, when Democrat Tammy Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) in one of the most expensive races in the country.

Baldwin’s campaign outspent Thompson’s on media buys, using his name recognition as a former Health and Human Services secretary to paint him as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist.

None of Wisconsin’s eight Congressional districts switched parties on Tuesday.

Vice presidential hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan (R) will be returning to Congress to represent the southeastern corner of the state after handily defeating challenger Rob Zerban (D). Incumbent Reps. Ron Kind (D), Gwen Moore (D), Jim Sensenbrenner (R), Tom Petri (R), Sean Duffy (R) and Reid Ribble (R) held onto their seats, and Democrat Mark Pocan won the seat left open in the 2nd district by Baldwin’s Senate bid.

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