After a dominant election day performance, Republicans win Senate control and boosted their share of seats in the House of Representatives. That newly unified GOP Congress will pose a challenge for President Barack Obama as he heads into his final two years in office.

It was a surprising night in which Republicans won even in Democratic strongholds like Maryland, where Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown fell to challenger Larry Hogan in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley. O’Malley is itching for a presidential run after eight years in Annapolis, but the loss for his designated heir could dampen his legacy. According to the Washington Post, Marylanders had become tired of O’Malley-era tax increases and took that anger out on Brown.

“Wow, what a historic night in Maryland,” Hogan said late Tuesday. “They said it couldn’t be done here in Maryland. But together, we did it.”

The night proved historic for other reasons as well, with the GOP consolidating its hold on the House, giving it nearly 245 seats and “the largest Republican majority since the Truman administration” over sixty years ago, according to the New York Times.

And after picking up seven new seats, the Republicans win Senate control for the first time since 2007 when Democrats rode a similar wave of discontent in the final midterm of the George W. Bush presidency.

The night began on a strong note for the GOP, with Mitch McConnell beating back a challenge from 35-year-old Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. As election returns started rolling in from other parts of the country, it quickly became that Republicans were in for a big night.

While polls – and history – pointed to discontent in a president’s sixth year being a driving factor in boosting Republican chances, the party made easy work of many races considered tight and even tighter up races that it had largely written off.

In Virginia, Senator Mark Warner, a popular former governor and moderate Democrat, had an exceedingly slim lead over his opponent, former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie. Warner declared victory, but Gillespie had yet to concede as of Wednesday morning.

In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was upset by challenger Thom Tillis. The senate race in Louisiana did not result in a greater-than-50% majority for any candidate, meaning incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) will face each other in a runoff election on December 6. And the outcome of the Alaska race, which featured another endangered Democratic incumbent in Mark Begich, could still remain up in the air as votes continue to trickle in.

After the Republican wins across the board, McConnell is now in line to become the Senate Majority Leader. He said Tuesday night that while he did not expect President Obama to suddenly change his worldview, the two sides should work together where possible.

“I think we have a duty to do that,” he said. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict. I think I’ve show that to be true at critical times in the past. I hope the president gives me the chance to show it again.”

Republicans dominated in gubernatorial races as well, winning seats in usually blue states like Illinois, Michigan, Maine, and Massachusetts. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who had sparked controversy and a recall election with his anti-union policies early in his term, cruised to a victory. And Republican-turned-Democrat former governor Charlie Crist lost narrowly to incumbent Rick Scott in Florida.

But it was the Republicans winning Senate control that could be the most consequential outcome for the next two years of national politics and speeding up President Obama’s lame duck status. With the midterms over, after all, many pundits had already turned their eyes to 2016 before election night was even over.

[photo credit: ConspiracyofHappiness]