As bad as things were for Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections, it could have been much, much worse.

At least 15 races where the GOP held on to their Congressional sets, the margin of victory was 3 points or less, meaning the race could have gone either way.

Reports Congressional Quarterly:

This may be small consolation for Republicans, who lost their Senate and House majorities to the Democrats in the fall 2006 elections, but it could have been a lot worse.

Of the 202 Republicans sworn in Thursday as members of 110th Congress, 15 maintained GOP control of their seats by margins of just 3 percentage points or less. On the other side of the aisle, just two of the 233 members of the new Democratic majority were winners of contests in which they retained their party’s control by similarly razor-thin margins.

In the Senate, where Democrats claimed a 51-49 majority with a six-seat net gain, only one seat was maintained by the incumbent party by fewer than 3 points, and it too was won by a Republican: Tennessee’s Bob Corker, the former Chattanooga mayor who edged Democrat Harold E. Ford Jr. for the seat that Republican Bill Frist — the outgoing Senate majority leader — left open to retire.

While Corker secured a six-year hold on his Senate seat, the close House races will be analyzed by strategists of both major parties as they determine which seats to target in the 2008 House campaigns.

On the bright side for the Republicans, their close winners proved their mettle in an unusually tough political environment for their party, and most fended off tough and highly touted Democratic challengers.

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