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Election 2012: why status quo result could mean more Washington gridlock

Serious business awaits the nation's lawmakers, the 'fiscal cliff' foremost. But the results of Election 2012 could give Washington's main players cause to dig in their heels.

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President Barack Obama and supporters celebrate victory at McCormick Place, on November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

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After the longest and most expensive campaign in American political history, every center of power in Washington – President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) – have reason to interpret the 2012 election as justification for digging in their heels.

The problem? The “fiscal cliff” awaiting lawmakers in the lame duck session, a pile of stalled legislation, and the ever-growing national debt can’t take much more congressional gridlock.

Take Speaker Boehner. The Ohio Republican saw his colleagues turn back a host of challenges and emerge with the House majority largely unscathed. And that means something simple: The American voters affirmed the House GOP, so why should they change?

“While others chose inaction in the face of this threat, we offered solutions. The American people want solutions – and tonight, they've responded by renewing our majority,” Boehner told Republican loyalists assembled in Washington. "With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”

Then there’s the Senate, where many Republicans expected 2012 would be Senator Reid's last as majority leader. Senate Democrats not only retained their majority, they added a seat to their side to boot – though at press time two Senate races were still undecided.

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