Image: Mike Fitzpatrick
Art Gentile  /  AP
Republican Mike Fitzpatrick celebrates victory in Doylestown, Pa., after defeating Democratic incumbent Patrick Murphy in the race for the state's 8th District.
By Deputy political director
NBC News
updated 11/3/2010 7:59:56 AM ET 2010-11-03T11:59:56

While some were predicting a political tsunami that would wipe out Democrats across the country, the more apt metaphor of what took place on Election Night was the hurricane — which first ripped through the South and then the Midwest, but only nicked the Northeast and West.

The hurricane was destructive enough to dismantle the Democrats' majority in the House, resulting in a party's largest congressional-seat loss since 1948.

In particular, they suffered sizable losses in Midwest states that President Barack Obama carried in 2008 (five congressional seats in Ohio, five in Pennsylvania, three in Illinois and two in Indiana).

Democrats also lost both the Senate and gubernatorial races in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as the Senate contest in Indiana and the gubernatorial race in Michigan.

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And the destruction for Democrats was equally bad in the South, with Republicans picking up four House seats in Florida, three in Virginia, three in Tennessee and one in Georgia.

Republicans also gained Senate seats in Arkansas and Florida, and governor’s mansions in Tennessee and Oklahoma.

"The path of the hurricane swished up the middle of the country," says Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate and gubernatorial contests for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "The eye was — bang — over the Industrial Midwest."

But the political hurricane only touched the Democratic strongholds in the Northeast and West.

In the Northeast, Democrats held on to the contested governorships in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. In the West, they won the governorship and Senate in California, and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray was neck and neck with GOP challenger Dino Rossi with 65 percent of the vote counted in Washington.

Video: David Gregory: Tea Party is elephant in room (on this page)

The Democrats' biggest victory was in Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defeated GOP challenger Sharron Angle. And in the battleground state of Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck were deadlocked.

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

Still, Election Day was mostly a rebuke to Democrats and the expansion of government.

According to the nationwide exit poll, 73 percent of those who voted disapproved of Congress’ job, and those people voted Republican by a 64-to-33 percent margin.

In addition, 54 percent disapproved of President Obama’s job performance, and those voters broke 85 to 11 percent.

Video: GOP sweep 'a firing' for Pelosi (on this page)

And 56 percent of the electorate said the government is doing too many things, which equaled the percent from 1994, the last time Republicans won back control of the House.

In 2008, however, only 43 percent said the government was doing too much.

NBC News' Domenico Montanaro contributed to this report.

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Video: How did GOP pull off biggest win in 70 years?

  1. Transcript of: How did GOP pull off biggest win in 70 years?

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Chuck Todd is NBC 's political director and chief White House correspondent. He had a late night , as well, and is joining us here this morning. Chuck , good to see you. Put it in perspective. The Republicans are going to pick up somewhere around 60 seats in the House .

    CHUCK TODD reporting: Yep.

    LAUER: Compare that to recent midterm elections.

    TODD: Look, this is the largest since World War II . Not since the midterm election right after Social Security passed and FDR did we see a repudiation, essentially, of the Democrats in this way back then. And I think it tells you, in a phrase that Bill Clinton said at one point after he lost in 1994 , "the era of big government is over" again. And I think that ends up being the big headline out of last night.

    House 54

    Senate 8 Approval Rating 47%

    LAUER: You did a great job showing the Republicans ' path to victory...

    TODD: Yeah.

    LAUER: the House . Take me to the Senate right now. Any surprises there for you?

    TODD: Well, look, the surprise I think's Harry Reid . I mean, the fact that he was able to pull this off. You can't help but look at what happened in the Senate last night. This was a huge Republican night. The only reason there's a split decision is because of the tea party , because right now if it wasn't for the tea party -- if you look at Colorado , which we haven't called yet, Nevada and Delaware , if you put those in the Republican column, they'd be at nine. And we would sit there and say, 'Hey, Washington state is the 10th Senate seat,' and Republicans would be looking at control of both.

    LAUER: We still don't know what's going to happen out in Alaska ...

    TODD: Yeah.

    LAUER: that race here. What about the governors race in Florida ? When are we going to know that?

    TODD: We may know something today. There's a dispute about how many ballots are still left. The Sink folks, the Democrats , believe there's a lot more ballots to be counted.

    TODD: If so, and if they're in Palm Beach County and Dade County -- this is familiar, 10 years ago...

    LAUER: Yeah, right.

    TODD: You feel like we've been here. Deja vu.

    LAUER: Deja vu all over again .

    TODD: Exactly. But I tell you, Florida , one of the big bright spots for Republicans overall. The only reason Rick Scott is struggling here is because of his personal problems. Republicans had a huge night in Florida , huge night in Wisconsin . That has huge 2012 consequences for President Obama .

    LAUER: You had a big night , too. Well done, Chuck .

    TODD: Thank you, sir.

    LAUER: Thanks very much.

    TODD: All right.

    LAUER: Appreciate you being here this morning.

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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