WASHINGTON — Opposition Republicans scored the first gains in US elections Tuesday as they looked to end Democratic control of Congress and deliver a stinging blow to Barack Obama's presidency.
Republicans picked up a Senate seat now held by Democrats with the victory of Dan Coats, a former ambassador to Germany, in Indiana. They also held onto a seat in the swing state of Ohio, where Rob Portman, a former top trade official, was victorious.
In addition, a Republican backed by the ultraconservative tea party movement, Rand Paul, won in Kentucky. Democrats once hoped to have a shot at that seat, arguing that Paul was too far out of the US political mainstream.
The victories were part of big Republican gains expected in the Senate. It was not clear, however, whether they could pick up the 10 seats needed to win control of the chamber. Their prospects were much greater in the 435-seat House of Representatives, where they needed a 40-seat gain.
Early results showed Republicans leading in the race for four House seats held by Democrats.