The biggest prize of all Tuesday night may be the presidency, but coming in a close second — if not equally as important — is the U.S. Congress.

On Tuesday voters chose to stick with Republicans in the U.S. House. Republicans are also likely to hold onto the Senate is they win Alaska and Louisiana, which is going to a runoff in December.

In Florida, Democrats picked up three House seats in Central Florida and Tampa. Meanwhile Republican Marco Rubio will hold onto his Senate seat in Florida.

It's easy to forget that although the president makes many important decisions, it's Congress that makes laws and holds the purse strings.

Congress has had consistently low rating in polls over the past decade. And yet, every two years, most of Congress is re-elected to office. In 2012, 90 percent of U.S. House members were re-elected. In 2014, 96.4 percent of lawmakers were re-elected.

Democrats pick up three seats in Central Florida, Tampa

Republicans will extend its 6-year hold on the U.S. House after victories Tuesday. The Democrats, however, made some small gains.

In Central Florida, newcomer Stephanie Murphy won House District 7 Tuesday night. The Democrat unseated longtime incumbent John Mica.

Mica served 12 terms in the U.S. House and was a senior member of the House Transportation Committee, steering federal dollars for several projects to Central Florida.

But his district was redesigned by court order, now including a small part of Orange County and all of Seminole County. That plus a late campaign start propelled a fresh face in Murphy into Congress.

The other big upset of the night was in the Tampa area, where former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat, unseated Rep. David Jolly in House District 13. Jolly's district was redesigned, making it more favorable for Democrats.

Jolly had suspected he may not be able to hold the seat for Republicans, which was why he originally ran for U.S. Senate. He decided to run for re-election to the House when Rubio picked up the Senate race after losing his presidential bid.

The third pickup for Democrats is House District 10. This newly redrawn district included two newcomers -- Val Demings and Thuy Lowe. Demings won the district.

"I am so humbled and grateful that the people of Central Florida chose me to represent them in Washington," said Congresswoman-elect Val Demings. "As the daughter of a maid and a janitor, my parents taught me the importance of hard work and believing in myself. Without those values I wouldn't be standing here today."

The map below shows the wins for Democrats and for Republicans in Central Florida and Tampa Bay:


With Republicans retaining power in the U.S. House, there's someone else to watch in the coming months: House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan was re-elected Tuesday, but he may face a coup from conservative representatives angry at Ryan for his tepid support and at times disavowal of Trump.

If Ryan is overthrown, it could change the dynamics of House Republican leadership. It also means we could see some changes for some local conservatives such as Ted Yoho in District 3, Ron DeSantis in District 6 and Dan Webster in District 11.

Rubio, Republicans keep the Senate

Republicans are expected to keep the U.S. Senate. Three races are outstanding, but the Republicans have 50 percent of the vote, following Pat Toomey's re-election in Pennsylvania.

If they hold onto Alaska and Louisiana, which goes to a runoff in December, this will be the case.

The most Democrats could win is 48 seats. There are two independent senators who tend to vote Democratic: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Angus King of Maine.

We won't know the results for one Senate seat until December.

According to the Cook Political Report, a well-respected election analysis newsletter, seven electoral seats are considered true toss-ups:

  • NEVADA: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto has won the race to replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
  • INDIANA: Todd Young has won this seat.
  • MISSOURI: Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt held on to win re-election.
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost to New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan. Ayotte conceded Wednesday.
  • NORTH CAROLINA: Incumbent Richard Burr has won this seat.
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Incumbent Pat Toomey won re-election Tuesday.
  • WISCONSIN: Incumbent Ron Johnson won re-election in a shocking victory against former Senator Russ Feingold.

One Republican seat up for re-election went Democratic Tuesday night. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a congresswoman and disabled veteran of the Iraq War, beat Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

Three Republican seats were leaning toward staying Republican going into Election Night. That's Arizona Sen. John McCain, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. All three won.

LIVE UPDATES: David Jolly-Charlie Crist District 13 Congressional race