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In Congress, a party sweep for Democrats

But they fall short of the 60 Senate seats needed to overcome filibusters and end gridlock.

(Page 3 of 3)

On the Senate side, Democrats are projected to pick up five seats, giving them a majority of 56 to 40 seats, with four too close to all. GOP incumbents in Alaska, Minnesota, Georgia, and Oregon are fighting off strong Democratic challengers. Meanwhile, former Gov. Mark Warner (D) easily won the seat of retiring Sen. John Warner (no relation) in the new battleground state of Virginia. In North Carolina, another new battleground state, newcomer Kay Hagan, a Democratic state senator, toppled Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a two-time GOP cabinet member. Reps. Mark and Tom Udall (cousins) won open seats in New Mexico and Colorado. Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) defeated Sen. John Sununu, who had defeated her in the 2002 Senate race.

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On the House side, Democrats increased their majority to at least 251, with 173 seats for Republicans; 11 House races are still too close to all. With the defeat of 11-term Rep. Christopher Shays (R) of Connecticut, they also voted Republicans out of their last House seat in New England.

Democrats picked up a net of at least 16 seats in the House, including winning 10 open seats and ousting 10 Republican incumbents. As of press time, four Democratic incumbents were defeated. After losing to the incumbent by 329 votes in 2006, high school teacher Larry Kissel defeated five-term Rep. Robin Hayes (R) of North Carolina. Two GOP incumbents, Reps. Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, were ousted in Florida.

“Tonight the American people have called for a New Direction. They have called for a change for America,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic victory rally in Washington on Tuesday.

“An important part of that change will be bipartisanship, civility, and fiscal responsibility,” she said.