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Election Corrects the Course of U.S. Politics

House Republican leader John Boehner addresses an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, Nov. 2, 2010. AP

While the election results may look like a shocking realignment of American politics, they are, in fact, much more of a course correction.

The make-up of Congress is now much more in step with where the country really stands.

President Obama stepped into the White House with a landslide 2008 electoral vote, but he did not win a landslide popular vote, of which he won a more modest 53 percent. With his election, the Democrats increased their hold on the House of Representatives.

Complete Midterm Election Results

The Democrats had a large majority in Congress, a percentage larger than the 2008 presidential vote should have given them.

In fact, 49 Democrats were elected in districts that John McCain won in 2008. Tuesday, Republicans won at least 35 of those, meaning that most of the Republican wins could be seen as a course correction, undoing what was done -- and maybe shouldn't have been done -- through Democratic gains in 2008.

Ominous Signs for Obama in 2012
Why Democrats Lost the House

Republicans won Tuesday in at least 25 districts which the President won in 2008. Those could be seen as the usual swing districts that bounce back and forth from party to party, from election to election.

When the world sees a landslide tonight, keep in mind that Obama's landslide was more measured in a split electorate than many saw it. Tonight, the new Republican majority in the House and the Democratic control of the Senate, means the split electorate is alive and well. And the course correction in the House seats reinforces that fact.

Just as Democrats swept into power over the discontent of war in 2006, the GOP swept into power Tuesday on discontent over the economy. Discontent seems to be the driving force in American elections and, with split control of Congress and the looming reality of increased gridlock, it seems that discontent will be a factor for years to come.

Robert Hendin
Robert Hendin is a CBS News senior political producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.
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