CBS News estimates Democrats have gained 12 House seats.
With all 435 House seats up for grabs, a CBS News analysis— 48 of them involving Republican-held seats versus just four held by Democrats.
The Democrats' first pickup of a Republican seat was in Indiana, where county sheriff Brad Ellsworth was the winner over GOP incumbent John Hostettler, a leading voice for social conservatives who was first elected in 1994, CBS News estimates. Also, Nancy Johnson, Connecticut's longest-serving House member, lost her re-election bid and former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler, a Democrat, defeated Republican Charles Taylor in North Carolina.
Other projected Democratic wins were:
"We're seeing a huge turn in independent voters to the Democrats. National exit polls show a significant advantage for Democratic candidates," reports CBS News political consultant Stu Rothenberg.
According to CBS News exit polls, voters said national issues outweighed local ones by roughly 2-to-1. Exit polls showed that nearly 60 percent of voters disapprove of the Iraq war. Most voters said their minds were made up at least a month ago.
In addition to the Iraq war, Democrats have sought to capitalize on Republican scandals and the public's overall disenchantment with having the Presidency and both houses of Congress in the same party's hands.
Republicans have spent months trying to beat back well-funded Democratic opponents in districts stretching from New Hampshire to California. In the campaign's homestretch, Democrats have widened the battlefield by going after Republicans in states that historically have been solid GOP territory, including Idaho and Kansas.
Clusters of GOP-held seats in the Midwest and the Northeast alone could give Democrats the pickups they need to rise to power.
Five Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania and three in Connecticut — more moderate areas of the country — could end up out of office. In the traditionally conservative Ohio River Valley, four GOP congressmen in Ohio and three in Indiana are fighting for their political lives.
Also at stake: A Democratic win in the House will likely elevate Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to speaker, making her the first woman to hold that office. Pelosi, who represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation and is notable for her sharp criticism of the Bush administration, would represent a big departure from current House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
Remaining key races to watch:
Two members of the rebellious Republican class of 1994 that swept Democrats from control had planned to run for re-election — but both recently resigned from Congress when they became ensnared in separate scandals.
Bob Ney of Ohio pleaded guilty in the influence-peddling investigation surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, while Mark Foley of Florida admitted having sent sexually explicit electronic communications to underage males who worked as House pages. Democrats now have solid chances to win both of those seats.
By contrast, the list of Democrats who appeared in electoral jeopardy to GOP challengers was short — Reps. Jim Marshall and John Barrow in Georgia. Both are in districts that were redrawn by the Republican legislature to make them more hospitable to the GOP.
Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana, at the center of a federal bribery investigation, appears headed for a December runoff. But his closest rival in a crowded field, Karen Carter, is also a Democrat, and the seat appears safely in the party's hands.
In 37 states, voters were determining the fate of ballot initiatives, including whether to ban gay marriage, raise the minimum wage, endorse expanded embryonic stem cell research and — in South Dakota — impose the country's most stringent abortion restrictions.
Already, this is projected to be the most expensive election cycle ever, at $2.6 billion.