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What you need to know this morning about Harry Reid, Democrats losing the Senate

Harry Reid

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks with reporters following a Democratic policy lunch at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 | 12:39 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lost his title Tuesday night in a Republican sweep that ousted Democrats from power in the U.S. Senate.

The Republican wave that gave the party a 52-45 lead in the Senate was strong. Republicans also earned an even larger majority in the House of Representatives. Together, the chambers make one of the biggest Republican Congresses since World War II, according to CNN.

Nevada's senior senator didn't lose his job Tuesday. Reid, who was not on the ballot, might still be the Democrats' minority leader as he gears up for his sixth re-election bid in 2016.

Here's everything you need to know about what happened Tuesday and where we can expect Congress — and Reid — to go from here.

Washington's power dynamics have fundamentally changed

President Barack Obama still has two years left in office. The House of Representatives is still Republican. But Obama will no longer have a Democratic Senate to buffer Republican attempts to vote to sue him or repeal his 2010 health care reform law.

Now, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who won his re-election in Kentucky last night, is expected to lead the Senate. That means he'll get to decide what bills come to a vote and when.

Reid will still have leverage to try to block some of those bills. His efforts will be helped by the fact that Republicans don't have a 60-person filibuster majority. But it's possible Obama will be issuing a lot more vetoes in his last two years.

Reid's relationship with Obama is frayed

In the midst of election results on Tuesday, The Washington Post posted a whopper of a story chronicling how Senate Republicans won the Senate.

In it, Reid's chief of staff, David Krone, puts much of the blame for this power shift on Obama. The president had poor approval ratings, said the wrong things on the campaign trail and wouldn't get on board with raising money for a Reid-affiliated Super PAC to try to hold the Senate.

"The president’s approval rating is barely 40 percent,” Krone told the Post. “What else more is there to say?"

If this open feud doesn't settle down soon, Obama could risk losing one of his staunchest allies in Congress.

Reid will still be powerful enough to hold off Yucca Mountain

That's according to more than a dozen Nevada and Washington political insiders on both sides of the aisle, who say Reid's astute ability to leverage his connections and power will keep the nation's nuclear waste out of Nevada. At least as long as Obama is president and the two men maintain a good working relationship. (Sensing a theme here?)

Nevada's junior senator, Dean Heller, is climbing the political ladder

With Republicans' wins on Tuesday, Heller will govern from the majority party for the first significant time in his eight years in Congress. I took a look at what he plans to do from the majority. Part of his plans include trying to dethrone Reid and potentially be the face of Senate Republicans' efforts to unseat Reid in 2016. Heller is also taking a bigger role leading the Nevada Republican Party. On Tuesday, he took center stage at the party's celebration to crown the GOP's six statewide elected leaders and a Republican sweep in the Legislature.

And Reid will run in 2016

The 74-year-old is facing his share of rumors that he'll step aside after losing the majority and the leadership title he's held since 2007. But Reid's friends all say he's a natural politician and is gearing up to run for re-election because that's what he knows how to do best. Barring any major health problems for him or his family, says Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston, Reid will run in 2016. And it will be a heck of a campaign: The entire world of presidential contenders will descend upon Nevada, an increasingly important swing state in presidential politics, and Republicans will make unseating Reid their top priority.

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