US President Barack Obama faces a bleak political landscape after American voters punished his Democratic party over the sluggish economic recovery and continued high unemployment.
Obama’s Republican rivals recorded big gains in the midterm congressional elections leaving the US Congress divided which will likely lead to gridlock, blocking Obama’s legislative programme.
When the new Congress takes power in January the Republicans will have a big majority in the US House of Representatives.
Exit polls showed them on track to gain around 60 seats from the Democrats, which would be the biggest swing since 1948.
It would also put Republicans in charge of House committees where they can block Obama’s plans to pass comprehensive energy and immigration bills.
Of the 37 Senate places that were being contested, Republicans have picked up six so far, including – in a very symbolic victory – President Obama’s former seat in Illinois.
The Democrats will retain control of the upper house with 51 seats, but it will be tough for Obama to get legislation through.