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Republicans win House majority; Democrats retain Senate majority

Republicans reclaimed the House majority tonight with an across-the-board sweep in every corner of the country, a victory rooted heavily in a deep dissatisfaction with the direction of the country and more particularly the economy.

House gains for the GOP crested the 39-seat majority barrier just before midnight eastern time although all of the major television networks had projected that Democrats would lose their majority earlier in the evening.

The new Republican majority isn't a narrow one either; in fact, it will be the party's biggest in more than 60 years.

"It's clear tonight who the winners really are, and that's the American people," said House Speaker designate John Boehner (R-Ohio). "The American people's voice was heard at the ballot box."

Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats have plenty to be proud of, despite the defeat.

"The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people," Pelosi said.

In the Senate, Republicans have netted six Senate seats -- defeating incumbents in Wisconsin and Arkansas and winning Democratic open seats in Indiana, Illinois and North Dakota -- but will fall short of the majority and lost a major symbolic battle as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) defeated former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) in Nevada.

Victories by California Sen. Barbara Boxer, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) in the Mountain State's surprisingly competitive Senate race and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's (D) win in Connecticut.

Senate races in Colorado and Washington -- both held by Democrats -- remain very close.

Republicans have yet to lose a seat of their own -- winning open seats in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, New Hampshire and Missouri. As expected, Christine O'Donnell (R) was soundly defeated by New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) in Delaware's open seat Senate race -- keeping the seat in the Democratic column.

In addition to congressional races, there are also 37 governor's races being decided, including contests in populous states such as California, New York, Texas, Florida Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Currently, Democrats hold 26 governorships and Republicans 24, but that balance is likely to shift.

Republicans have already picked up Democratic-held governorships in Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming, Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma tonight. Democrats won the California and Hawaii governorships back from Republicans and held contested seats in Massachusetts and Maryland. Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee won the Rhode Island governorship.

Whatever its final contours, the expected electoral upheaval is all but certain to reshape the remaining two years of Obama's term. The president's first two years in office have been marked by historic legislative achievements, including passage of a massive stimulus bill and auto industry bailout that many economists say spared the nation even deeper economic pain, as well as enactment of a sweeping health-care overhaul.

Preliminary exit polling suggests discontent with the economy was main driver of the vote. More than six in ten voters said the economy is the number one issue facing the nation and three times as many people believe it is getting worse rather than better. Among voters who are "very worried" about the economy, Republican candidates hold wide leads over their Democratic counterparts.

Nearly three in four voters express dissatisfaction with Congress and six in ten say they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

There are also signs that President Obama's attempts to re-create the coalition that helped elect him in 2008 have come up short -- particularly with young voters whose numbers in preliminary exit polling are well short of where they stood two years ago. Less than half of all voters approve of the job President Obama is doing in office.

The high-stakes elections spawned a spending spree that shattered records for a nonpresidential contest. The Center for Responsive Politics research group estimates that total spending for 2010 could hit $4 billion, with expenditures by outside groups accounting for 10 to 12 percent of that. (In the Colorado Senate race alone, outside groups and national party committees had spent upwards of $33 million in the fight between appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck (R).)

Democrats -- led by the White House -- sought to make spending by conservative-aligned outside groups like American Crossroads a major issue in the election although polling suggested the issue of transparency in political giving had little traction among moderates and independents.

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | November 3, 2010; 2:01 AM ET
Categories:  Governors, House, Senate  
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Next: Election 2010: Republicans net 60 House seats, 6 Senate seats and 7 governorships

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