Democrats toppled conservative tea party freshman Reps. Joe Walsh and Bobby Schilling in Illinois, as well as another freshman, Robert Dold and seven-term veteran Judy Biggert, a social moderate.
Other GOP casualties included Rep. David Rivera of Florida, who was hurt by investigations into his past campaign financing; Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, who lost to the Democrat she defeated in 2010, Dan Maffei, and New Hampshire Republican Charlie Bass, ousted by Ann Kuster, the Democrat he defeated narrowly two years ago.
Republicans turned Rep. Kathy Hochul out of office in New York, as well as Larry Kissel in North Carolina, Mark Critz in Pennsylvania and Ben Chandler in Kentucky.
In gubernatorial races, Republicans picked up North Carolina, where Pat McCrory won easily. The incumbent, Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue, did not seek re-election.
In a campaign that traversed contested Republican primaries last winter and spring, a pair of political conventions this summer and three presidential debates, Obama, Romney, Biden and Ryan spoke at hundreds of rallies, were serenaded by Bruce Springstein and Meat Loaf and washed down hamburgers, pizza, barbecue and burrito bowls.
Obama was elected the first black president in 2008, and four years later, Romney became the first Mormon to appear on a general election ballot. Yet one man's race and the other's religion were never major factors in this year's campaign for the White House, a race dominated from the outset by the economy.
Over and over, Obama said that during his term the nation had begun to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. While he conceded progress had been slow, he accused Romney of offering recycled Republican policies that have helped the wealthy and harmed the middle class in the past and would do so again.
Romney countered that a second Obama term could mean a repeat recession in a country where economic growth has been weak and unemployment is worse now than when the president was inaugurated. A wealthy former businessman, he claimed the knowledge and the skills to put in place policies that would make the economy healthy again.