Mitch McConnell, who as the top Republican in the Senate is poised to become majority leader, pledged to work with Obama in the last two years of the president’s term.
“We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” he told supporters in a conciliatory victory speech in Kentucky. “I don’t expect the president to wake up tomorrow morning and view the world any differently. He knows I won’t either.”
The White House has invited a number of leaders from both the House of Representatives and the Senate to a meeting on Friday that may prove to be a moment of reconciliation aimed at forging compromise on issues such as tax reform and trade negotiations where there is some common ground.
Opinion polls had predicted a night of heavy losses for Democrats, who have struggled to distance themselves from an unpopular president, but the scale of the Democratic defeat still came as something of a surprise.
Obama conceded that this year’s midterm elections were tough for Democrats, who defending many of their seats in traditionally Republican-leaning states that he lost in the presidential election.
“This is the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower – there are a lot of states being contested that just tend to tilt Republican,” said the president in one of a series of last-minute radio interviews.