Another ferocious campaigner in 2010, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, told ABC News on election night that the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives reflected a country full of "frustrated and worried" voters.
"They will send a message to President Obama by putting him in a headlock," Pawlenty said. "If he does not stop flailing, they will throw him out of the ring."
In the same interview, Pawlenty, who has been a frequent visitor to Iowa -- a key early caucus state -- speculated about how soon 2012 hopefuls would need to jump into the race.
"I think it probably varies by potential candidates," Pawlenty said. "Somebody like Sarah Palin, given how well-known she is and the ability she has, she could probably wait longer than people who are less well known." Though Pawlenty said he has not made a final decision about 2012, a too-close-to-call governor's race in Minnesota could potentially complicate matters for him should he decide to run. With only a few thousand votes separating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer, the race could be headed toward a recount.
On Wednesday, Pawlenty pledged to stay on as governor if a winner was not declared in time for him to leave office next year, saying that "any of my personal plans or concerns are secondary."
Tuesday night was deja vu all over again for conservative leader Newt Gingrich, who helped orchestrate the Republican Revolution of 1994 and now is contemplating a presidential bid.
In an interview on Fox News, Gingrich characterized the party's gains as an "enormous wave," and "the biggest repudiation of a White House since 1932."
Some Republicans who are not as well-known on the national scene, but could have a shot at the party's presidential ticket in 2012, appeared to be sending subtle signals about their ambitions on Wednesday.
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., a favorite among conservatives who won a presidential straw poll this summer at the annual Values Voter Summit, announced on Wednesday that he was stepping down from his position as House Republican Conference chairman. It's a sign that Pence may be eyeing a presidential run, or possibly, a bid for governor of his state.
In Indiana, where Republicans seized control of the state legislature, another one of the GOP's rising stars, Gov. Mitch Daniels, celebrated victory on Tuesday night, declaring, "Indiana has stepped out ahead of the pack in the past two years, and we are going to extend that lead."
But it is very likely that all of the Republican heavyweights who are itching for the chance to take on President Obama two years from now will be watching Palin's every move more closely than any of their other counterparts.
Palin indicated she may be ready to take on all comers -- Democrat or Republican.
"Very clear message to Pres Obama: We'll send our representatives to D.C. to stop your fundamental transformation of America," Palin tweeted, adding later: "Boxing gloves needed for what is ahead."