Democrats will have at least 51 seats in the Senate, making this the first time that the House alone has switched. Actually, that's not quite right. It happened once before--in 1931. Republicans had lost 52 seats in the 1930 election--President Hoover, if we remember right, said it was no big deal, voters were just angry and scared because of the economy--but still had a one-seat majority. Owing to deaths, vacancies and special elections, however, the Dems had taken over by the time the new Congress convened in March.
This statement captures something very interesting, and very unique (at least in my lifetime) about this mid-term election cycle. The House of Representatives was designed to be a place for the general expression of the people in the government. The Senate a place more to represent the interests of the separate states. Thus the switch of the House alone, without the Senate.
What seems to be happening in this election cycle is a movement of the people themselves to re-take the reins of the government. Several commentaries indicate that the Tea Party might ultimately have been detrimental to the interests of the party because they obstructed the efforts to conquer the Senate... but I think that is a false indicator.
The House was the most accessible to the people, and the most easily influenced. The Senate would require more time and energy because the people need to find true leaders among themselves, with credentials to manage the challenges of that upper chamber of our legislature. What happened is that the people hired the representatives that they believe will be most responsive to their wishes... and if I understand the mood of the country correctly... the people plan to continue to be very active in the management of their new reps.
In the Senate elections we see a few examples of leaders with requisite demeanors and skill sets, particularly Marco Rubio (FL) and Rand Paul (KY), and likely Ron Johnson (WI) as well. But the rest were mostly statements of warning to the general population of the political set: We are serious this time, we will not accept establishment candidates without serious vetting, and you will listen to us and be responsive. The people are not afraid to lose a fight that must be engaged.
2012 looks to be a brilliant election, and the period between now and then will likely be a thrilling time in American political history.