With results still coming in, the full extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 60 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years.
Democrats cling onto their majority in the Senate, though in smaller numbers, according to projections based on CNN analysis of exit poll data from Tuesday's midterm elections. Democrats were guaranteed to hold at least 50 of the 100 Senate seats, with a handful of close races still outstanding, according to the projections.
Exit poll data analyzed by CNN showed that the economy was the dominant issue on voters' minds and indicated that key constituencies shifted from supporting Democrats in 2008 to voting for Republicans this time.
While the ushering of more Republicans into office might signal a rejection of Democrats in power, it might not be a warm embrace of the GOP. Exit polling showed voter dissatisfaction with both parties, as each received a 53 percent unfavorable rating.
An energized conservative electorate, fueled by the anti-establishment Tea Party movement that emerged in 2009, helped Republicans to what could be the biggest House gain by any major party since 1948.
"With their voices, the American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington," said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, who is expected to become House speaker when the new GOP majority takes over in January. But he added, "This is not a time for celebration ... not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work ... not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt."
Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said, "Over the last four years, the Democratic majority in the House took courageous action on behalf of America's middle class to create jobs and save the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression."
"The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people," Pelosi said. "We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward."
President Barack Obama called Boehner to congratulate him as the GOP takeover of the House appeared certain. They had a brief but pleasant conversation, according to Boehner's aides. The two discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending.
"It's President Obama's responsibility to take the wake-up call that came yesterday," said Andy Card, who was White House chief of staff under former President George W. Bush. "It was a huge wake-up call, and it's President Obama's responsibility to say, 'I will work with you Republicans in Congress.' "
However, Republicans might be in no mood to reciprocate. Democratic strategist and CNN analyst Robert Zimmerman noted that many GOP candidates have spoken of dismantling some measures Obama has put in place, such as on health care. "That doesn't speak about going forward," he noted. "It doesn't speak about jobs and building our economy."
The vote was actually "a wake-up call for both Democrats and Republicans," said Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez. Voters gave the House "the power of the purse," she said, but said it was a good thing that the Democrats retained control of the Senate.
That way, she said, the Obama administration will not say it is fighting all the Republicans, and it could line up a "more balanced approach." The question, she said, is whether Obama will move toward the center and "follow the Bill Clinton model."
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