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First Read’s Morning Clips

OBAMA AGENDA: Five questions after the midterms

NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. writes about the five big questions to ask now that the midterms are in the books. Chief among them: Is Obama's presidency effectively over?

Obama, Wednesday: "The American people . . . expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. They expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. They want us to get the job done. All of us in both parties have a responsibility to address that sentiment.”

And McConnell, Wednesday: "The American people have spoken, and they have given us divided government."

NRCC head Greg Walden predicted a "hundred-year majority" in a press conference post-election.

Sen. Angus King will keep caucusing with Democrats, saying "it is in Maine’s interest to have a senator in each camp." Joe Manchin is also going to stick with the Dems.

The Washington Post's Paul Kane gives deep context to Obama's relationship with Republicans and with his own party in Congress.

Obama is still vowing to take immigration action this year, writes the AP. “Obama defiantly stood by his pledge to act on his own to reduce deportations, grant work permits and improve border security by the end of the year despite resounding election victories by Republicans strongly opposed to his plans. The Senate's likely majority leader next year, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared that such a move would amount to "waving a red flag in front of a bull."”

The New York Times: "After years of gridlock in Washington, American business is gearing up for a major push on long-sought goals like an overhaul of the corporate tax system, building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, lighter environmental and financial regulation and winning congressional backing for trade deals with Asia and Europe. Business interests face a much more receptive audience now that Republicans are poised to control both the House and Senate next year. But despite plenty of public talk of more aggressive action — like a rollback of the Affordable Care Act or the Dodd-Frank rules passed after the financial crisis — lobbyists, experts on Wall Street and political veterans say the actual legislative agenda will be much more limited."

The Wall Street Journal: "Fresh off a resounding election night victory, Republican leaders on Wednesday began to etch out an ambitious plan to press a GOP agenda centered on taxes, trade, energy, health care and financial regulation through a divided government."

The Journal has a good briefer on Obama's relationship with McConnell.

"Republicans emboldened by their Election Day victories are poised to use their new power on Capitol Hill to advance oil and gas industry priorities, beginning with approving the Keystone XL pipeline," writes the Alaska Dispatch News. "Supporters of that TransCanada Corp. project now count a filibuster-proof 61 votes in the Senate for legislation authorizing the pipeline and are preparing to advance the measure early next year, once Republicans take control of the chamber."

OFF TO THE RACES: The GOP’s new, fresh faces

One of us(!) writes about the new, younger and more diverse class of incoming Republicans. Fun fact: The average age of incoming GOP senators is under 50.

The New York Times: "[A] powerful lesson for both parties emerged from the returns: Demographic shifts that are gradually reshaping the American electorate, making it more racially diverse and younger, cannot overcome a difficult political environment and a weak message in a nonpresidential year."

Women on both sides of the aisle aren't thrilled with the limited number of gains in Congress.

Are Southern GOP gains permanent? Democrats say no, but they acknowledge that their game will have to change, writes the New York Times.

ALASKA: The governors' race remains too close to call, but independent challenger Bill Walker is planning for a transition plan if he defeats incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.

Mark Begich isn't conceding in the contested Alaska Senate race, citing uncounted rural votes.

CONNECTICUT: Republican Tom Foley conceded to incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy -- despite a GOP wave that almsot could have swept him into office.

FLORIDA: The Miami Herald's "How He Did It" piece: "Scott’s late decision to put nearly $13 million of his own money into the campaign may have ultimately made the difference."

KANSAS: McClatchy writes that Roberts' win "signals a resurgence of the Republican establishment nationwide, a trend that comes not only at the expense of Democrats but also of tea party insurgents."

Roberts' win boosted Sam Brownback across the finish line, writes the Wichita Eagle.

Analysts are blaming Greg Orman's underperformance on the lack of a GOTV machine.

LOUISIANA: They're wasting no time in the Louisiana runoff. "If there was an epicenter for Hurricane Isaac in St. John the Baptist Parish, the River Forest subdivision in LaPlace could very well vie for the title. Hundreds of homes were swamped by rapidly rising water in the 2012 storm, stranding many residents,” writes the Times Picayune. “It was in this neighborhood on Wednesday that U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu chose to throw down a political gauntlet to her runoff opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, on the issue of disaster relief. The Democratic incumbent said Cassidy, whose district includes River Forest and other portions of St. John Parish, ignored the needs of his constituents."

Cassidy scheduled no public events on Wednesday.

Edwin Edwards won a runoff spot in the 6th Congressional District and celebrated with old friends, including a former juror in his corruption trial.

MAINE: Observers in the state are already speculating about whether Mike Michaud may run for governor again in 2018. (Or, he may go live in a log cabin.)

MARYLAND: What the heck happened in Maryland? The Washington Post: "Hogan won by solid margins among voters in the sparsely populated counties in the western, eastern and southern parts of Maryland — who often feel they have little in common with the high-powered types who populate Bethesda, Rockville and other close-in Washington suburbs. But his strongest support was in the more densely populated central part of the state: Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties, along with Hogan’s home county of Anne Arundel."

VIRGINIA: The Washington Post asks if Mark Warner erred by being too much of a centrist: "A self-described “radical centrist” who prided himself on his appeal among Republicans and independents, Warner steadfastly continued to court those voters despite strong evidence that their tolerance for Democrats had dramatically waned."

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) about the new balance of power in congress, and Cindy Boren, the Washington Post editor of The Early Lead, about the report that Alex Rodriguez admitted to the DEA that he used steroids.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Sen. John McCain, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Fmr. Rep. Tom Davis, Fmr. Romney campaign Economic Policy Advisor Vin Weber, the Atlantic’s Molly Ball and NBC’s Peter Alexander.