WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker-apparent John Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged the new House majority would listen to the electorate that elevated them to power.
"Let me just say this: It's clear tonight who the real winners are -- and that's the American people," Boehner said. "The American people's voice was heard at the ballot box."
Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, on a projected pace for a net increase of more than 50 seats, far more than the 39 needed to become the majority party. The blossoming GOP victory at the midpoint of President Barack Obama's term resembled the sweeping net gain they saw in the first midterm elections under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
CNN reported Obama spoke briefly with Boehner and was trying to reach out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.
With high unemployment, crushing debt and national lawmakers held in such low esteem, "This is not a time for celebration," Boehner said, saying Election Day put Washington on notice.
"For far too long Washington's been doing what's best for Washington and not for the American people," Boehner said, "tonight that begins to change."
The new House majority would take the approach of "cutting spending instead of increasing it, reducing the size of government instead of increasing it, and reforming the way Congress works and giving it back to the American people," Boehner said.
"It's the president who sets the agenda for our government," Boehner said, while adding the election also sent a message to Obama: "Change course."
He said he hoped Obama would "respect the request of the people."
"To the extent he's ready to do that, we'll work with him," Boehner said. "It's time to roll up our sleeves and go to work."
Republican candidates in a handful of the country's most competitive House races were defeating Democratic incumbents, ABC reported.
Long-time Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher was projected to lose to his Republican opponent in Virginia's 9th Congressional District, and two other Virginia races appeared following the 9th's lead.
In South Carolina, Tim Scott, the first Black Republican member of the House since J.C. Watts was elected in 1994 and retired in 2003, was projected to win, various media outlets reported.
In a huge loss for Democrats, House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., lost a tough re-election bid to Republican state Sen. Mick Mulvaney. His votes for cap-and-trade, the stimulus and healthcare reform provided Republicans fodder for their campaign against him.
Another major blow to Democrats was the apparent defeat of Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri to Republican Vicky Hartzler.
In Minnesota's bitterly contested 6th Congressional District, conservative Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann held a nearly 12 percentage point lead over Democratic state lawmaker Tarryl Clark with 52.8 percent of the precincts counted.