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In addition to the presidential election, part of Americans also go to elect Senators and House representatives. A senator is elected for 6 years at the time, with elections being held every two years for a third of the senate. This means that 33 of the 100 seats in senate are awaiting a new occupier to be announced after the November 6th election for the six years to come. House Representatives on the other hand only serve for 2 years at the time with all 435 seats being up for grab at each election.
For this years House election, Democrats are expected to win 183 seats and Republicans 228 seats while 24 seats are considered tossups. This means that even if the Democrats win all the tossup seats, Republicans still maintain the majority, which they also have held for the past two years.
For the Senate election, Democrats are expected to win 17 seats and the Republicans eight of the 33, leaving another eight heavily contested. Democrats maintain 30 seats while Republicans maintain 37 seats. With both parties winning the solid and leaning seats, the Democrats will have 47 seats and Republicans 45 seats. The remaining eight tossup seats up for election will therefore be significant for either party to dominate the senate and similarly for the president of the next four years.
If the Republicans win the Senate and Mitt Romney the presidency, there is no stopping them until the next election (assuming the House election takes a drastic turn).
Source: Estimates from New York Times