Republican candidates in a handful of the country's most competitive House races appear poised to knock off Democratic incumbents tonight, based on early returns in 39 states.
The GOP was projected to pick up seats in districts from Virginia to Indiana, where Democratic incumbents won narrowly in 2008 and John McCain carried the presidential vote.
Long-time Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher was projected to lose to his Republican opponent in Virginia's 9th congressional district, a sign many pundits say reflects a big GOP win in the making. Other competitive Virginia races appeared headed in the same direction.
In Virginia's fifth district first-term Democrat Tom Perriello is projected to fall to Republican challenger Robert Hurt, despite repeated campaign appearances on his behalf by President Obama.
In Indiana, two of three GOP candidates in the state's most competitive races are projected to defeat their Democratic incumbent opponents.
"If the Democrats lose two out of three tough races in Indiana they are going to lose the House," predicted George Stephanopoulos, ABC News' chief Washington correspondent and co-anchor of "Good Morning America."
And in South Carolina, voters are projected to send Republican Tim Scott to Congress, the first African American Republican member of the House since J.C. Watts was elected in 1994 and retired in 2003.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tonight rejected numerous polls predicting a Republican landslide among House candidates and defiantly predicted that Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives.
"The early returns and overwhelming number of Democrats who are coming out – we're on pace to maintain a majority in the House of Representatives," Pelosi told reporters during a photo op in Washington.
Republicans need to win just 39 seats from Democrats to claim a 218-seat House majority, a feat ABC News' pre-election race ratings and many polls have shown to be easily within reach. More than 100 Democrat-held seats appeared vulnerable going into midterm Election Day, including 68 seats that either lean Republican or are toss-ups.
The last time Republicans took control of the House from Democrats in a 1994 avalanche -- the so-called Republican Revolution -- they flipped 52 seats.
A GOP victory would bring an end to the often embattled tenure of Speaker Pelosi, who made history in 2007 when she became the first woman to ever hold that rank, and force dozens of Democratic reps to hand over the gavels -- and the offices -- of their powerful committees to their Republican rivals.
It would also set the stage for Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner, the son of a bar owner and one of 12 children who became president of a plastics company before entering politics, to become the next speaker.
A split balance of power in Congress would also make it much harder for President Obama and Democrats to advance their legislative agenda and increase the prospect of political gridlock on everything from taxes and spending to immigration.
The magnitude of the looming wave is hard to predict, given the number of competitive seats, lack of exit polling in many races and variability of voter turn out. But which party will control the House beginning in January will likely be known soon after polls close.