Image: Pat Toomey
Carolyn Kaster  /  AP
Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey waves as he arrives to deliver his victory speech to supporters early Wednesday in Fogelsville, Pa., after defeating Democrat Joe Sestak.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 11/3/2010 5:02:23 AM ET 2010-11-03T09:02:23

Republicans gained Senate seats in at least six states but fell short of becoming the new majority party in midterm elections Tuesday night, as Democrats hung on in closely watched races in Nevada, California and West Virginia, according to NBC News projections.

The GOP took seats from Democrats in Indiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

They needed to win 10 of the dozen Democratic seats in play without losing any of their own to be the new majority party. 

Still undecided late Tuesday were seats held by Democrats in Colorado and Washington. Even if Republicans were to win those races, they would fall short of a majority.

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

In a race that was a closely watched marker in a year when resurgent Republicans sought to take control of Capitol Hill, voters in Nevada sent Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, back to Congress for a fifth term.

Reid beat back a tough challenge from Sharron Angle, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement that has jolted American politics with its call for a drastically smaller government and lower taxes. With 99 percent of the ballots in, Reid had garnered 50 percent of the vote and Angle had earned 45 percent.

In a state where the economy has nose-dived and the jobless rate is the nation's highest, defeating Reid was one of the Republicans' top priorities this year.

'Yes we did'
During the campaign, Angle challenged Reid to "man up" about his decisions on the economy.

Reid said his manhood had never been questioned before and depicted his challenger as a fringe conservative.

Reid, in his victory speech, told a waiting crowd: “Yes we did. Today Nevada chose hope over fear."

As a former boxer, he said he knew what it was like to take a punch.

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"I’ve taken a few,” he said. “But more importantly, I know what it’s like to get back up on your feet.”

He said his campaign had one theme. "If a poor kid from Searchlight (Nev.) can make it, anybody can make it," he said.

“Everyone in Nevada deserves a chance, everyone in America deserves a chance,” he said. “We’re gonna bounce back stronger than ever.”

Angle, saying in her concession speech "we know how to lose," said her campaign had inspired "Main St. America."

“We inspired not only Nevadans but a country,” Angle said, noting about 80 percent of $14 million in donations came mostly from small donations from out of state.

Nevada Senate election results

In a closely watched race in Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson handed a stunning defeat to three-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, NBC News projected.

Johnson depicted his opponent as a big-spending liberal who backed the federal stimulus package and presided over a huge increase in the budget deficit.

Johnson, the chief executive officer of a plastics and polyester company in Oshkosh, sneaked up on Feingold over the summer and blew past him in the polls in September.

Wisconsin Senate election results

In Indiana, Republican Dan Coats defeated Democrat Brad Ellsworth, according to NBC projections.

Coats takes the seat of retiring Democrat Evan Bayh. Coats is not a new face to the Senate — he served from 1989 to 1999 after being appointed to fill the seat of Dan Quayle, who was elected vice president in 1988.

"Hoosiers have every reason to be proud, we went from a seat fundamentally supportive (of President Barack Obama’s policy) to one that firmly opposes it," Coats said.

Indiana Senate election results

In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost her seat to a Republican challenger after months of criticism that she was too closely aligned with the Obama White House, especially on health care.

Middle ground
Republican John Boozman was to become only the second Republican from Arkansas to serve in the Senate since Reconstruction, according to NBC projections.

"I worked hard at reaching out to others to find that middle ground, to be that common sense and try to make our country great. I still don't believe the answers are in the extremes," Lincoln told supporters. "They have to be in the middle. They have to be where we work together."

In North Dakota, Gov. John Hoeven beat poorly funded Democrat Tracy Potter for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Byron Dorgan. It was the first time in 24 years that North Dakotans have elected a Republican senator.

In an expensive battle in Illinois, Mark Kirk, a congressman and Obama critic, narrowly defeated state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a basketball buddy of the president who would have been a strong ally in Washington, to take the president's former Senate seat. "A tsunami just hit the heartland," Kirk exulted in his victory speech.

In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman and head of the anti-tax group Club for Growth, edged Democrat Joe Sestak for the seat of incumbent Arlen Specter, who was knocked out by Sestak in the Democratic primary.

Sestak said he didn’t regret the hard-fought race, despite the outcome: “I’d do it, even knowing the ending, in a heartbeat."

Pennsylvania Senate election results

Tea Party-backed Republicans also had strong showings in Florida and Kentucky.

In Florida, Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio won the open Senate seat for Republicans, as the Democratic vote was divided between Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee, and Charlie Crist, the former governor who ran as an independent.

"Our nation is headed in the wrong direction and both parties are to blame," Rubio said, adding that people were looking for a "clear and genuine alternative."

Vote: What was the most important issue to you in this election?

In Kentucky, Rand Paul, the son of Republican libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, defeated Democrat Jack Conway.

Paul emerged as the iconic Tea Party candidate this election year after defeating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's pick to fill Kentucky's open Senate seat in the Republican primary.

"There’s a Tea Party tidal wave and were sending a message to them, a message I will carry with me," Paul declared.

He said it was a message of "fiscal sanity, limited constitutional government and balanced budget."

In California, Democrat Barbara Boxer won her fourth term in the U.S. Senate, dashing GOP hopes of removing the liberal icon with a strong challenge from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina refuses to concede
Boxer's victory was not easy. She faced a multimillionaire candidate and a wave of attack ads funded by out-of-state business and conservative groups. Fiorina blamed Democrats for failed economic policies, but Boxer turned the tables.

Fiorina late Tuesday refused to concede, claiming the vote count showed her and Boxer in a "dead-heat tie."

Boxer, however, thanked supporters for her 11th straight election victory, especially citing donations that matched out-of-state money.

Invoking the San Francisco Giants and their World Series victory Monday, Boxer said, "The Giants beat the Texas Rangers and we beat the Texas polluters tonight."

Full Senate election results

In Colorado, Tea Party favorite Ken Buck, who beat the Republican establishment candidate in a primary, was running against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.

Bennet was the Denver public school superintendent when he was appointed in January 2009 to the Senate to succeed Ken Salazar, who became Interior Secretary.

In other notable races, according to NBC projections:

  • Democrats held onto Vice President Joe Biden's old Senate seat in Delaware, as Chris Coons defeated Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell. O'Donnell's quirky comments in old TV interviews — including an admission that she once dabbled in witchcraft — made her the target of late-night comedians. The winner of this race will be immediately seated when the Senate reconvenes on Nov. 15. Despite her loss, O'Donnell declared: "Our voices were heard and we’re not going to be quiet now."
  • West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin held off millionaire Republican John Raese to keep a Democrat in the seat held for half a century by the late Robert C. Byrd. Manchin promised to work with Republicans in Washington. "I’m going there and I intend to work with everyone who's going to put their country first," he said.
  • Republican Sen. Jim DeMint easily won a second six-year term in South Carolina, putting an end to Democratic challenger Alvin Greene's unlikely political rise. Greene, an unemployed military veteran, surprised the political world in June when he came out of nowhere to capture the Democratic nomination. But his campaign soon led to embarrassing revelations: A University of South Carolina student accused him of showing her obscene photos online, and he was indicted on criminal charges.
  • A tempestuous three-way race left "write-in candidates" leading in Alaska, a sign that incumbent Sen. Lisa  Murkowski could retain her seat. Murkowski ran a rare write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary to Tea Partier Joe Miller. Trailing was Democrat Scott McAdams. However, it may take weeks to determine how many wrote in Murkowski's name. Murkowski late Tuesday told an Alaska crowd voters proved "Yes we can" after being told they couldn't run a victorious write-in campaign. "We showed them how smart we are — we can spell a name; we can fill in an oval. ... This is about a can-do people."
Live Vote: Should news outlets publish election projections?

Also, according to NBC projections:

  • Republicans retained seats in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Dakota and Utah. In Louisiana, incumbent Republican David Vitter survived a barrage of attacks stemming from his involvement with a prostitution ring to handily defeat Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon for a second term.
  • Democrats held on to seats in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New York (2), Oregon and Vermont. In Connecticut, popular Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal weathered an unexpectedly tough race against big-spending former World Wresting Entertainment chief executive Linda McMahon.

Democrats technically hold 57 Senate seats, but two independent senators caucus with the party. While Democrats appeared to retain the majority, some conservative members of the party and independents have not always voted along party lines.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: Angle concedes to Reid

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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