Video: After the GOP surge

  1. Transcript of: After the GOP surge

    WILLIAMS: Good evening.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And about last night , what were the voters across this country trying to say? Well, they split up the government, they made it very clear they don't like the way things are being run. That means the president, that means the Democrats , the government as a whole and the US economy , most of all. Some veteran office holders are packing up and going home , and some newcomers are coming to Washington . About a third of them, 32 percent of the candidates who were elected last night across this country, are affiliated with the tea party movement. It was a tough message from the voters, a clear message . The president was asked today whether he got it. And for a lot of incumbents, there was no mistaking it. Our team is here, reassembled on no sleep. And we begin our reporting this new night with our political director, Chuck Todd . What a night it was, Chuck .

    CHUCK TODD reporting: That's for sure. Look, the day after an election is all about defining what the meaning is out of the elections. Well, it was done at dueling press conferences today from President Obama to Republican Speaker-to-be John Boehner . Triumphant Republicans made it clear they intend to reset the agenda.

    Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Minority Leader): Well, the American people spoke, and I think it's pretty clear that the Obama - Pelosi agenda is being rejected by the American people . They want -- as I said last night , they want the president to change course, and I think it's change course we will.

    TODD: While a chastened president tried to put the best face he could on the results.

    President BARACK OBAMA: Every election, regardless of who wins and who loses, is a reminder that, in our democracy, power rests not with those of us in elected office, but with the people we have the privilege to serve.

    TODD: Asked repeatedly what went wrong for Democrats , Mr. Obama accepted some responsibility.

    Pres. OBAMA: I think the overwhelming message that I hear from the voters is that we want everybody to act responsibly in Washington , we want you to work harder to arrive at consensus, we want you to focus completely on jobs and the economy and growing it.

    TODD: And he admitted his campaign promise to change Washington fell short.

    Pres. OBAMA: We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things got done, and I think that frustrated people.

    TODD: But Republican John Boehner , poised to become speaker of the House , said the anti- Washington message goes much deeper.

    Rep. BOEHNER: I think it's a mandate for Washington to reduce the size of government and continue our fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government.

    TODD: Boehner is a 20-year veteran of Congress from suburban Cincinnati known to wear his emotions on his sleeve, like last night .

    Rep. BOEHNER: I've spent my whole life chasing the American dream .

    TODD: His first challenge as speaker will be to bridge the perceived divide between the so-called establishment wing of the GOP and the newly elected tea party representatives. He is no stranger to insurgency. Here's first-term Representative Boehner , one of the gang of seven, a cadre of young Republican conservatives from 1991 who used paper bags over their heads to demonstrate their embarrassment at Washington . As for President Obama today, he showed new willingness to compromise on several issues, including extending all of the so-called Bush tax cuts .

    Pres. OBAMA: How that negotiation works itself out, I think it's too earlier to say. We're not going to play brinksmanship, but instead we're going to act responsibly.

    TODD: And the president became uncharacteristically self-reflective, with Bill Clinton 's portrait appearing over his shoulder. The president even invoked Clinton and Ronald Reagan by name and their tough midterm defeats for their political parties in 1982 and 1994 . And he was very blunt about yesterday's losses.

    Pres. OBAMA: Now, I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like they -- like I did last night , you know, they -- I'm sure there're easier ways to learn these lessons.

    TODD: Now, the president did a similar conference call today with supporters and donors and he said, 'Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. We had a tough night .' President Friday leaves for Asia for a 10- day trip . He's got to do a few things, a G-20 meeting, the Asian economic meeting. But before he goes, he's going to tape another national television interview, " 60 Minutes " on Sunday, where we'll hear more about his reflections on this election, Brian .

    WILLIAMS: Remarkable day after a remarkable

Iamge: Harry Reid, John Boehner
Steve Marcus / Reuters; Jim Young / Reuters
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, celebrates his victory at an election night party in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. House Republican Leader John Boehner, right, who broke down in tears during his speech, gives a thumb-up after addressing supporters at a rally in Washington.
NBC, and news services
updated 11/3/2010 8:53:22 AM ET 2010-11-03T12:53:22

Americans who insisted they were tired of partisan divisions elected a divided Congress on Tuesday, giving Republicans control of the House of Representatives but leaving Democrats with a razor-thin hold on the Senate, NBC News projected. Among the embattled Democrats who kept his job was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Republicans were on track for at least a 53-seat majority in the House, NBC News projected. They knocked out some of the House's longest-serving Democrats, including John Spratt of South Carolina, Ike Skelton of Missouri, Chet Edwards of Texas and Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota.

Incomplete returns showed the GOP picked up at least 60 House seats — the biggest party turnover in more than 60 years , NBC News reported.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell hailed his party's gains. "Tonight the voters ensured their message was heard loud and clear," he said.

    1. National overview
    2. Full Senate results
    3. Key House results
    4. Full Gubernatorial results

Although NBC News projected that Republicans did make gains in the Senate, picking up at least six previously Democratic seats — including the Illinois seat formerly held by President Barack Obama and another held by liberal icon Russell Feingold of Wisconsin — they fell short of a majority.

Speaking on NBC's TODAY on Wednesday, Reid emphasized the need for both parties to collaborate.

"I think the message to America today is that ... we have got to stop the name-calling. We have got to recognize that the only way we can have progress is by working together," he said.

Kirk wins Obama's old Senate seat

NBC News' projections indicated that Democrats would hold at least 49 seats. Because the Senate's two independents caucus with the Democrats, they were expected to control at least 51 seats.

GOP picks up Senate seats but falls short of majority

Republicans were piling up victories in governor's races across the country , but Democrats held on in two of the biggest states, NBC News projected: Andrew Cuomo beat Republican Carl Paladino, a favorite of the anti-Washington Tea Party, in New York, and three-time presidential candidate Jerry Brown returned to the governor's job in California, defeating former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

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The GOP gubernatorial gains came after a campaign in which their party organization spent more than $100 million, nearly double what Democrats had.

In Nevada, Reid defeated one of the Tea Party's most competitive candidates, Sharron Angle.

"Friends, I'm not finished fighting," Reid, the target of some of the harshest criticism from left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party, said at a victory party shortly after midnight. "In fact, tonight I'm more determined than ever."

Video: Sen. Reid: We need to work with Republicans (on this page)

But if projections hold, Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio would likely succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker of a newly Republican House of Representatives.

In victory remarks late Tuesday in Washington, Boehner — who broke down in tears at one point — said it was clear that "the winners are the American people."

'A repudiation of Washington'
Boehner called the election "a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people."

Video: Tearful Boehner says 'not a time for celebration'

The message for Obama, he said, was that he should "change course." And while he promised that "to the extent he is willing to do this, we are ready to work with him," he struck a combative tone.

"Make no mistake — the president will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as they've expressed it tonight: standing on principle, checking Washington's power and leading the drive for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government."

Boehner said that Obama called him and that they had a "brief but pleasant conversation." The White House said Obama also called Pelosi and her deputy, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, along with McConnell, but didn't describe the nature of the calls.

Video: Angle concedes to Reid

Obama was scheduled to hold a post-election news conference at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Pelosi, the first woman to hold the post of House speaker, issued a statement. "We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward," she said.

Tea Party victories
The impact of the Tea Party, a loose amalgamation of disenchanted voters who leaned heavily Republican in pre-election polls, was closely watched.

What exit polls say about Tea Party movement

NBC News projected that Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida were the first Tea Party-endorsed candidates elected to the Senate. But the network projected that Christine O'Donnell lost to Democrat Chris Coons in Delaware.

The Delaware race was one of 10 that analysts said the Republicans had to win if they were going to take control in the Senate. But in addition to O'Donnell, Republicans went down to defeat in California (where Sen. Barbara Boxer won re-election), West Virginia (where Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin beat John Raese) and Connecticut (where Democrat Richard Blumenthal beat pro wrestling mogul Linda McMahon).

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Still, the returns signaled a hurricane of voter discontent with Obama and Democrats in general, as Americans delivered their verdict on the president's far-reaching health care law and economic relief efforts.

For example, in Virginia — a state Obama won in 2008 — three House Democrats who voted for his stimulus plan went down to defeat.

Rick Boucher, who was first elected in 1982, and two freshman, Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye, all lost. Boucher and Nye voted against the president's health care overhaul, while Perriello voted for it. Obama campaigned in Charlottesville for Perriello last week.

Republican Chip Cravaack also upset 18-term Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar in Minnesota's 8th District.

In the Alaska Senate race, write-in ballots held the lead in the hotly contested three-person race early Wednesday . Tea Party favorite Joe Miller narrowly beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary in August, prompting her to mount the write-in bid.

With 76 percent of votes recorded, write-ins had about 41 percent of the vote. Miller had 34 percent and Democrat Scott McAdams had about 24 percent.  

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Data from pollsters' interviews with voters as they left their polling places appeared to confirm that the economy remained the No. 1 concern of American voters.

Overall, the interviews found deep disenchantment both with Congress and with Obama: 73 percent of voters disapproved of Congress and 54 percent disapproved of the job Obama is doing as president.

Exit polls show more conservative electorate

National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn, the senator charged with guiding GOP Senate candidates to victory, promised that the "hard work begins" immediately.

"It's going to take strong, determined leadership to deal with the problems of this country: unemployment, debt, runaway spending," Cornyn said.

"We don't want any more failed stimulus, Mr. President," he said.

Voter mobilization efforts unfolded for weeks as more than 14 million Americans cast early ballots.

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      GOP takeover

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In South Carolina, election officials reported that a record number of voters had cast ballots in advance. In Colorado, meanwhile, more than a million votes were already in before the polls opened Tuesday morning.

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"We're very happy with the turnout we've had in an off year," said Ed McGettigan, the county clerk of Atlantic County, N.J. "We've submitted over 4,500 actual ballots into the mail, of which about 75 percent of them have been returned to the board of elections, which in an off year is a real strong number."

Interest among voters appeared high on the ground, too.

Voters waited two hours to cast their ballots in Hamilton County, Ind.; election officials in South Carolina projected that turnout would beat the last midterm election, in 2006, by 8 percentage points; and North Carolina election officials projected the highest midterm turnout in 40 years.

NBC News, staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Map: Election results 2010

Photos: Election night

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  1. Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich celebrates a victory during the Ohio Republican Party celebration in Columbus, Ohio. (Tony Dejak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, celebrates early election returns in Anchorage on Nov. 2. With Murkowski are from left, sons Matt and Nick Murkowski and longtime friend Hope Neslon. (Michael Dinneen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown celebrates his election win during a rally with his wife, Anne Gust, in Oakland, Calif. (Paul Sakuma / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman concedes to Democrat Jerry Brown during a campaign party in Universal City, Calif. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Supporters of California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman react after conceding the Governor's race to Democrat Jerry Brown during a campaign party in Universal City, Calif. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Terri Sewell celebrate her victory with her cousin Kindall Sewell- Murphy as the first African American woman to be elected to for the 7th Congressional District seat in Alabama, with family and friends in Selma, Ala. (Butch Dill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle with her husband, Ted Angle, concedes defeat to supporters at the Nevada Republican Party's election results party at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino after she lost to incumbent U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Supporters of Nevada Republican Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle react after news projected Democratic Party candidate Harry Reid as the winner of the race for the Nevada senate seat at the Nevada Republican Party's Election Night event in Las Vegas, NV. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks during the Nevada State Democratic election night party after defeating Sharron Angle to win re-election, in Las Vegas. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Angela Webb of Alabama, left, and Leah Stith of Virgina react after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was announced as the winner over Republican challenger Sharron Angle at the Nevada State Democratic Party's election results party at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas. In one of the nation's most closely watched races, Reid retained his seat for a fifth term against Angle, a Tea Party favorite. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. House Republican leader John Boehner breaks into tears during his speech as he addresses supporters at a Republican election night results watch rally in Washington, D.C. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Supporters of Republican Senator Marco Rubio celebrate at his victory party in Coral Gables, Florida. (Gary I Rothstein / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. U.S. Senator John McCain is reflected on a teleprompter as he celebrates his victory with his daughter Meghan after defeating Democratic candidate Rodney Glassman in Phoenix, Arizona. (Joshua Lott / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Tammy Tideman of Mesa, Arizona and Carla Schwarte of Phoenix, Arizona hold "Fire Pelosi" sighn as Sen. John McCain speaks to the crowd during an Arizona Republican Party election night event in Phoenix, Arizona. (Laura Segall / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Democrat Bill White walks off the stage after addressing his election night party at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston. The former Houston mayor conceded defeat to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry in the race. (Smiley N. Pool / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. President Barack Obama makes an election night phone call to Rep. John Boehner from his Treaty Room office in the White House residence. (Pete Souza / The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Tea Party Patriots at an election night party celebrate an announcement that Republicans have gained the majority in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, November 2. (Ann Heisenfelt / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Terri Scofield of Medford checks her email for updates from the Board of Elections as she awaits elections results at the Suffolk County Democratic Committee Headquarters in Islandia, N.Y. (Kathy Kmonicek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand D-NY celebrates her re-election at a rally in New York. Disenchanted U.S. voters swept Democrats from power in the House of Representatives and increased the ranks of Senate Republicans on Tuesday in an election rout that dealt a sharp rebuke to President Barack Obama. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Harris Blackwood, communications director for Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal, holds a broom, claiming a sweep for Republicans at the Georgia Republican Party's election night watch party in Atlanta. (Brant Sanderlin / Atlanta Journal & Constitution / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, a favorite among the conservative Tea Party movement, appears at an election night rally in Dover, Delaware. Democrat Christopher Coons won the U.S. Senate race in Delaware on Tuesday, keeping for Democrats a seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Michele Bachmann and other Republicans gather at the Sheraton Bloomington to await election results. (Tom Wallace / Star-Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Kentucky Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul acknowledges supporters with wife Kelley at his election night rally in Bowling Green, Kentucky, November 2. (John Sommers II / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., arrives to celebrate his re-election with supporters at the Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club in New York. (Jason Decrow / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Supporters Rachel Smith, right, and Genevieve Fugere watch the returns of Democratic Mike McIntyre D-N.C., 7th House District at his election night headquarters at the Holiday Inn in Lumberton, North Carolina. (Jim R. Bounds / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Election worker Janet Smith processes ballots at the King County Elections headquarter in Seattle, Washington. Among the races and ballot initiatives here is the US Senate race between incumbent Senator Patty Murray and challenger Republican and former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, which is so close it could take several days to determine the winner. (Stephen Brashear / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Republican candidate for governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, right, watches election results come in after the polls closed from a hotel restaurant with her husband Michael, left, son Nalin, 9, rear center, and daughter Rena, 12, right, in Columbia, South Carolina. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Florida Governor Charlie Crist thanks supporters after conceding his defeat in his campaign for U.S. Senate to Republican Marco Rubio during a campaign party in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Brian Blanco / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Diana Reiner of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, left, and Keli Carender of Seattle, Washington, gather with a group known as the Tea Party Patriots for a 'Reclaiming the Capitol' rally at the US Capitol. The group planted a "special edition" of the historic Gadsden flag, the US flag, and the Tea Party Patriots banner into the ground in Washington, DC. Midterm elections are being held across the United States with many highly contested races that could threaten the political futures of numerous incumbents as well as change the balance in the Senate and House of Representatives. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Jamey Stehn leaves the Hope Social Hall after casting his ballot in Hope, Alaska. Stehn and the other 200 or so residents of Hope use the one-room log building built in 1902 as their polling place and activity hall. (Michael Dinneen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Volunteer Justino Mora, left, joins members of the mariachi band "Los Munecos," and other Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles volunteers to urge immigrant voters to vote early in the California election in Los Angeles, California. The sign reads in Spanish: "Everybody to Vote." (Damian Dovarganes / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Congressman Joe Sestak speaks with a reporter after casting his ballot in Gradyville, Pennsylvania. Sestak faces Republican candidate Pat Toomey in the midterm election. (William Thomas Cain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Sloan Atkins, 6, left, helps her mother, Coleen Atkins, as her sister Reese Atkins, 4, helps their father Anthony Oliva, right, fill out their ballots in West Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Sen. John McCain and his wife, Cindy, address the media outside a polling station in Phoenix as Apollo, a dog owned by McCain's son, Jimmy, licks the camera. (Matt York / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers fills out his ballot at a polling station inside the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Spellman Room in Ossining, New York. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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