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.
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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