Republican Susana Martinez of New Mexico became the first female Hispanic governor in America, defeating her Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.
Martinez, the Dona Ana County district attorney, bested Denish by a 54 percent-to-46 margin, CBS News reported. She succeeds term-limited Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.
In South Carolina, Nikki Haley, a businesswoman whose parents are immigrants from India, will be the first Indian-American female governor, defeating Democrat Vincent Sheheen in a tight race.
"Our message was simple. We wanted a stronger economy. We wanted better schools. We wanted it to be about jobs, and we wanted government to remember that every dollar was not government's money; it was the taxpayer's dollars, and how we spent it mattered," Haley told supporters. "Today the people of South Carolina embraced that message."
In budget-strapped California where two-term Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't run again, projections indicated former e-Bay chief Republican Meg Whitman spent millions of dollars of her own money would lose to Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown, who would be the state's governor for a third term. He served his first two terms from 1975 to 1983.
Republican-turn-independent Lincoln Chaffee was on a trajectory to be Rhode Island's governor.
Andrew Cuomo defeated Tea Party-backed Republican Carl Paladino to win the New York governor's race, exit polls indicated.
Incumbent Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, did not run for re-election.
Cuomo, 52, is the son of Mario M. Cuomo, who was the Empire State's governor from 1983-1994 and is now a New York City lawyer.
Paladino, 64, is a Buffalo real estate developer and political neophyte whose strident rhetoric failed to gain support from voters, exit polls indicated.
"We are one; we are united," Cuomo told supporters. "Yes, we have a challenges, but we're going to face them together."
Still too close to call is the battle in Illinois between Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger state Sen. Bill Brady.
With 79 percent of precincts reporting, Quinn, who stepped up from lieutenant governor after Rod Blagojevich was impeached, held a razor-thin lead of 47.6 percent over Brady's 46.9 percent, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo won the New York governor's race with a decisive victory over Republican opponent Carl Paladino, a Buffalo real estate developer and political neophyte whose strident rhetoric failed to gain support from voters, exit polls indicated.
Republican Sam Brownback moves from the U.S. Senate to governor of Kansas with an easy election win over Democrat Tom Holland, results indicated.
Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton narrowly led Minnesota's three-way race for governor Tuesday night, election results showed. The Star Tribune said Republican Tom Emmer had pulled within 1 percent of Dayton with 75 percent of the votes counted. Independent candidate Tom Horner, a public relations executive, was a distant third.
The winner will succeed Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, seen by many as laying the groundwork for a potential presidential bid in 2012.
In Ohio, the race between embattled Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and Republican challenger former Rep. John Kasich was projected to go to Kasich, despite multiple trips by President Obama on behalf Strickland, several media outlets.
Democrats occupy governor's mansions in 19 states, Republicans claim 17 and independent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was elected as a Republican in 2006, but abandoned the party to for an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.