In an historic shift, Republicans emerged victorious in the 2010 U.S. mid-term elections. While they made large gains in the House of Representatives, Democrats retained control of the Senate. Many voters hope the shift will bring new legislation that combats high unemployment, falling home prices, and rising government debt.
Voters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, awoke to a political landscape that had shifted overnight.
Republican Senate Candidate Pat Toomey and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett defeated their Democratic opponents, and will take control of a state looking to add jobs and spur economic recovery.
Pittsburgh real estate agent Maria Leaf lost her job with a media company earlier in the year. After living on modest unemployment benefits, she decided to enter the real estate market at a time when housing prices across the country are down.
She says there is initial optimism following Tuesday's election results.
"I really hope that the optimism that is there, about the economy getting better, happens - and happens quickly," said Leaf.
Housing prices in Pittsburgh remained more stable than other cities during the housing meltdown, but that has not translated into more business for Leaf. She is considering taking on an additional part-time job to help make ends meet.
But she hopes to see a post-election boost in interest for new homes.
"We are thrilled because once that gets out of the way, people will be out and looking, and a lot of people want to be in a new home by the holidays, and that is what our goal is to help them accomplish," she said.
Leaf admits that optimism could be short-lived if Republican lawmakers do not have a plan to speed up economic recovery.
In New York, where Democrats retained Senate and Gubernatorial seats, Ford Motor Company employee John Chambliss thinks there is little lawmakers can do.
"I do not think there is anything they can do to beef up the economy," he said. "I think capitalism is a natural cycle, laissez faire, and I think if they can just leave it alone and let it work itself out instead of trying to inject itself, instead of government trying to inject itself into a laissez faire economy, then I think everything will be fine."
Tax lawyer Charles Chromow disagrees.
"I am a firm believer that in times of economic recession like now, government should be spending more to stimulate the economy, not less, as the Republicans are urging," he said. "In fact, a lot of the problem with the high unemployment rate is due to the insufficient stimulus the government has made, not to the supposedly large numbers that Republicans say are inappropriate."
Back in Pittsburgh, once the center of U.S. steel production, Indian-American entrepreneur Lalit Chordia favors lowers taxes as a way to help spark the growth of small businesses, like his company, Thar Technologies.
"Any time we lower taxes, it allows us to put more money back into the economy through investments," said Chordia. "I would like to see more tax directed towards investment, versus just a reduction in income taxes."
Thar Technologies is in the emerging "green job" sector, touted by the Obama Administration as a way to lower unemployment by getting people back to work in an industry that helps clean the environment.
Thar manufactures and exports equipment that processes biodiesel fuel.
But Lalit Chordia says his business growth has been hampered by an unclear energy policy by the Obama Administration, and pending legislation on a subsidy for using biodiesel fuel, which is still being debated by lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
"We are hoping that the change in Congress will allow both the Republicans and Democrats to come together because the 2012 elections are coming," he said. "So they come together with a clear policy on the biodiesel side so that will allow us to make a decision to go forward or not to go forward."
In the coming year, Chordia hopes to move Thar Technologies from their current location to a bigger facility, allowing him to hire more employees and contribute to job growth.
But Chordia admits that all depends on how well lawmakers cooperate, and how well the economy recovers.