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Democrats to take control of House, CNN projects

Story Highlights

NEW: CNN projects Democrats to gain at least 28 seats, will control House
NEW: Exit polls show national issues key in House races
NEW: Pelosi, to be House speaker, declares victory
NEW: Bush wants to work in bipartisan way, White House says
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(CNN) -- Democrats picked up at least 28 seats in voting for the House of Representatives on Election Day, enough to take control when Congress is seated in January, CNN projected.

Democrats said the turnover was a clear signal that dissatisfaction over the Iraq war, the unpopularity of President Bush and a series of Republican scandals played a role in the voting booth.

Key races where Democrats gained seats included Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, where 12-term Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson lost, and Florida's 22nd Congressional District, where 25-year veteran Rep. Clay Shaw lost.

Scandal also contributed to the shift in the balance of power in the House. In Ohio's 18th Congressional District, Democrat Zack Space defeated Republican Joy Padgett for the seat formerly held by GOP Rep. Bob Ney, CNN projected.

Ney resigned Friday after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal. (Real-time House results)

In Florida's 16th District, CNN projected Democrat Tim Mahoney defeated Republican Joe Negron. The seat was left open by the resignation of former Rep. Mark Foley after it was revealed he sent lurid electronic messages to congressional pages.

Foley's name remained on the ballot, and Negron had to convince voters that a ballot cast for Foley was really a ballot for him.

In Pennsylvania's 7th District, 10-term GOP Rep. Curt Weldon lost to Democrat Joe Sestak, CNN projected.

Weldon's re-election bid was hurt after federal agents searched his daughter's home as part of an influence-peddling investigation. Weldon has denied wrongdoing.

In Texas' 22nd District, Democrat Nick Lampson won the seat vacated by former Republican leader Tom DeLay, defeating Republican Shelly Sekula-Gibbs, CNN projected.

"Tonight is a great victory for the American people," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is poised to become speaker of the House. "Today, the American people voted for change, and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction. And that is exactly what we intend to do."

That particularly applies to the war in Iraq, she said.

" 'Stay the course' has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops, and has not made the region more stable. We cannot continue down this catastrophic path ... the campaign is over. The Democrats are ready to lead," said Pelosi, who will be the first woman to be speaker. (Watch Pelosi declare victory -- 4:43)

The White House said Bush will call Pelosi on Wednesday to offer congratulations.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush will deliver the message "the problems we faced this morning are the same problems we'll face tomorrow --winning the war in Iraq, keeping the economy together, working on renewing 'no child left behind' " legislation.

"It was encouraging to hear the Democrats say it's time to get rid of partisanship," Snow said.

The president "wants to go back to the Texas model, he's always reached out. He's been trying over the last couple of years with limited success," Snow said.

One Republican who survived a close race was Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, the House Republican chair, according to CNN projections. Reynolds revealed he learned about Foley's e-mails to a page before they became public.

All 435 seats were up for grabs in the House, where representatives serve two-year terms.

With control of the House comes the ability to set the chamber's agenda, and a stronger hand in setting Congress' legislative agenda.

Democrats hoped voters would use their congressional votes to send Bush a message of their dissatisfaction with his policies in Iraq.

In exit polling nationwide Tuesday, 57 percent of voters said they disapproved of the war in Iraq, while 41 percent approved. Those figures mirror Bush's job approval among voters, with 58 percent saying they disapprove of the president's performance and 41 percent approving.

Exit polling results were based on interviews Tuesday morning and afternoon. Polling continued throughout the evening.

"The burden on the Republican Party now is to somehow change the national discussion away from Iraq and the president's shortcomings and over to the war against terrorism," said Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Exit polling Tuesday found voters placing national issues well ahead of local ones in influence on their House votes, 62 percent to 33 percent. (Watch how national mood reflected in House voting-- 2:19)

In the current House, Republicans hold 230 seats, Democrats hold 201, with one independent who usually votes with Democrats. One Democratic seat was left vacant when Robert Menendez of New Jersey was appointed to the Senate, and three Republican seats are vacant because of resignations -- those of DeLay, Foley and Ney.

Republicans have held the chamber for the past 12 years, taking power in the midterm election of President Clinton's first term. For that 1994 vote, Republicans put forth their "Contract With America," in which they pledged to clean up congressional ethics, cut the congressional payroll, simplify federal budgeting practices, and make it more difficult to pass tax increases, among other things.

Before the 1994 elections, Democrats had held sway in the House since 1952.

This is the second midterm election for Bush, and the party of the occupant of the White House historically loses congressional seats in the middle of that president's second term. Only Clinton bucked that trend -- in 1998 -- but Democrats lost 52 seats in the 1994 election.


Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi celebrates after her party won control of the House. She will be the first female House speaker.

Democrat gains

CNN projected Democrats gained these seats in the House of Representatives:

Arizona, 5th District: Harry Mitchell beat incumbent J.D. Hayworth

Arizona, 8th District: Gabrielle Giffords beat Randy Graf

California, 11th District: Jerry McNerney beat incumbent Richard Pombo

Colorado, 7th District: Ed Perlmutter beat Rick O'Donnell

Connecticut, 5th District: Chris Murphy beat incumbent Nancy Johnson

Florida, 16th District: Tim Mahoney beat Joe Negron

Florida, 22nd District: Ronald Klein beat incumbent Clay Shaw

Indiana, 2nd District: Joe Donnelly beat incumbent Chris Chocola

Indiana, 8th District: Brad Ellsworth beat incumbent John Hostettler

Indiana, 9th District: Baron Hill beat incumbent Mike Sodrel

Iowa, 1st District: Bruce Braley beat Mike Whalen

Iowa, 2nd District: Dave Loebsack beat incumbent Jim Leach

Kansas, 2nd District: Nancy Boyda beat incumbent Jim Ryun

Kentucky, 3rd District: John Yarmuth beat incumbent Anne Northup

Minnesota, 1st District: Tim Walz beat incumbent Gil Gutknecht

New Hampshire, 1st District: Carol Shea-Porter beat incumbent Jeb Bradley

New Hampshire, 2nd District: Paul Hodes beat incumbent Charles Bass

New York, 19th District: John Hall beat incumbent Sue Kelly

New York, 20th District: Kirsten Gillibrand beat incumbent John Sweeney

New York, 24th District: Michael Arcuri beat Ray Meier

North Carolina, 11th District: Heath Shuler beat incumbent Charles Taylor

Ohio, 18th District: Zack Space beat Joy Padgett

Pennsylvania, 4th District: Jason Altmire beat incumbent Melissa Hart

Pennsylvania, 7th District: Joe Sestak beat incumbent Curt Weldon

Pennsylvania, 10th District: Chris Carney beat incumbent Don Sherwood

Texas, 22nd District: Nick Lampson beat Shelly Sekula-Gibbs

Vermont, 1st District: Peter Welch beat Martha Rainville

Wisconsin, 8th District: Steven Kagen beat John Gard

SPECIAL REPORT

SENATE Updated: 11:43 a.m. ET
33 at stake, 0 undecided
Republican
49
Democrat
51
Independent
51 Dem, 50 GOP needed for majority
0
HOUSE Updated: 11:43 a.m. ET
435 at stake, 0 undecided
Republican
202
Democrat
233
Independent
218 needed for majority
0
* Total for Senate Democrats includes two independents
Election Results Main Page
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