And Then There Were 54: Landrieu Crushed

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu on Saturday got crushed in a Louisiana election runoff, losing to Republican Bill Cassidy by a huge 14-point margin.

The decisive defeat of a three-term incumbent capped a historic mid-term election for Republicans. Not only did they flip the Senate from 53-45 to 54-44 -- an outcome nearly all political polls and pundits said was next to impossible -- the GOP took the largest majority in the House since WWII.

The defeat was humiliating for Landrieu, who pulled out all stops to hang on to her seat. With nearly all the votes counted, Cassidy led 57 percent to 43 percent.

“On November 4th, the American people sent a message that they didn’t like the direction our country was heading,” Cassidy said in his victory speech. “Our state is the exclamation mark on that message.”

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for years refused to allow a vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would extend the flow of millions of barrels of oil to the Gulf Coast for refining, he did so in a last-minute effort to save his colleague. The vote came up short, all but sealing Landrieu's fate.

Cassidy, 57, had a simple campaign strategy: Link Landrieu to President Obama, widely unpopular among whites in Louisiana. In doing so, he made Landrieu an Obama puppet, but vowed to be different.

"This victory happened because people in Louisiana voted for a government which serves us but does not tell us what to do," he told a large crowd in Baton Rouge.

Cassidy is the ninth Republican to win a previously Democratic seat this year. A runnoff was held because no candidate won a majority in the Nov. 4 election.

Landrieu, 59, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee until Republicans take over in January, delivered her concession speech at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. She was cheered loudly when she mentioned her vote for Obamacare.

"This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it," she said, calling her own record one of “courage.”