Senator Claire McCaskill did something few thought possible last night - she won a decisive re-election victory over Representative Todd Akin in one of the most closely watched Congressional races in the country.
With President Obama's defeat of Mitt Romney, the Republican Party finds itself in the same place it was four years ago — once again coming up short in its attempt to win the most powerful office in American democracy.
It faces the inevitable soul-searching the losing party undergoes, to greater or lesser degrees, after every contest for the one office whose occupant represents the entire nation.
And how the GOP reacts could help determine its fortunes in 2016.
Obama has become only the third U.S. president to win re-election by a narrower margin than his first victory. Having won a second term, Obama will seek to set the nation's agenda on issues ranging from taxes to immigration, but he may continue to struggle in selling his ideas to Congress.
Winning matters. Having earned a second term, President Obama will attempt to build on and expand the agenda from his first, launching new initiatives on tax policy, education and immigration.
But having won the popular vote by a bare majority — and still facing a divided Congress — Obama may find it difficult to gather momentum for his policies.
Despite the close result in the popular vote nationwide, Obama wasted no time claiming vindication for his ideas. In his victory speech early Wednesday in Chicago, he tied his re-election to two centuries of American progress.
Transcript of President Obama's victory speech in Chicago. Source: Federal News Service
Editor's Note: NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!