Republicans sought Tuesday to wrest control of the House of Representatives from President Barack Obama's Democrats and change America's direction.
With Republican voters energized and ultraconservative tea party-fueled anger apparent across the country, the Republican Party was positioned to capture the 40 seats they would need to control the lower chamber, and had shots at claiming another 20 or more. Demoralized Democrats had solid chances to wrest fewer than a half-dozen seats from Republicans.
Democrats now control the House by a 255-178 margin, with two vacancies. All 435 seats are up for grabs.
It was shaping up as a remarkable turnabout from 2008, when Obama helped propel Democrats to big gains in their House majority only two years after the 2006 wave that swept them to power.
The House has the power to raise revenue through taxes, to impeach officials and to elect the president in case of a deadlock. Its leader, known as the speaker, is second in line for the presidency after the vice-president.
High unemployment and disillusionment with Obama and his allies in Congress posed seemingly insurmountable challenges for dozens of Democratic candidates in all regions of the country, from freshmen to the most powerful veterans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to gather with Democrats at a downtown hotel, her party bracing for a bloodbath _ the only question being how severe.
Blocks away, Republican Leader John Boehner, in line to claim Pelosi's job should his party make the expected gains, was to huddle with party leaders, careful to avoid a party-like atmosphere at a time when voters appear fed up with both sides.
Strategists in both parties expected Republican successes that could rival the party's 1994 wave to power, which handed them 52 seats and control of the House for the first time in 40 years.