This unprecedented political campaign season could carry over into the 115th Congress that begins in January as a possible shift of power in the Senate and tighter margins in the House of Representatives make it hard for legislative ideas to advance, observers say.
“I think the American people should brace for gridlock,” said Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Investment Council, a Washington private equity advocacy and trade group. Mr. Sommers joined the group in February after more than two decades on Capitol Hill, most recently as chief of staff to former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Republican control of the House is expected to continue after the Nov. 8 elections, but the balance of power in the Senate is up in the air.
Republicans gained control of the Senate in 2014, after seven years in the minority. This election season, they are defending 24 seats, compared with 10 for Democrats, who would need to win just five seats to regain the majority. Should Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton take the White House, Democrats would need only four seats, because the vice president can break ties in the Senate.
No matter what the final count is in the Senate, no party is expected to capture the 60 seats needed to override vetoes, which means that it will take bipartisanship to get anything done.