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GOP Captures Key Races; Blumenthal Wins Connecticut

Republicans rolled up key early U.S. election wins on Tuesday after a long and bitter campaign that could sweep Democrats from power in Congress and slam the brakes on President Barack Obama's agenda.

Richard Blumenthal (D)
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Richard Blumenthal (D)

Anxiety over the stumbling economy and discontent with Obama propelled Republicans to the threshold of huge gains that could give them a majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate.

Stock futures were higher in reaction to the early Republican gains. (Click here for the latest futures quotes)

Republicans picked up their first Senate seat from Democrats in Indiana, and held Senate seats in Ohio and New Hampshire.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul became the first Tea Party favorites to win Senate races, ensuring an influx of conservative views in the staid chamber.

Another high-profile Tea Party favorite, Republican Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, lost her race.

Marco Rubio (R)
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Marco Rubio (R)

In the Connecticut Senate race, popular Democratic state attorney general Richard Blumenthal won an unexpectedly tough race against big-spending former World Wresting Entertainment chief executive Linda McMahon.

Democrat Joe Manchin won the Senate race in West Virginia, beating back a late surge by Republican rival John Raese, NBC projected.

Former Sen. Dan Coats easily dispatched Rep. Brad Ellsworth in Indiana to win back the seat he voluntarily gave up a dozen years ago.

New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, in her first run for office, took the Senate seat that was held by retiring Republican Judd Gregg.

Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama and Democrat Barbara Mikulski in Maryland have each won a fifth Senate term.

Rob Portman won the Ohio Senate race, keeping Republicans in control of the seat that Sen. George Voinovich is vacating. Portman spent 12 years in the U.S. House starting in 1993.

Easily winning re-election as expected were Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Polls have closed in nearly half of the 50 states, although it could be hours before many winners are determined. Voting will end in other U.S. states over the next five hours.

Opinion polls and independent analysts project Republicans will win at least 50 House seats, far more than the 39 they need to take control and topple Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from power.

More than 90 Democratic seats are in danger, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Dozens of races are considered too close to call.

Republicans are also expected to make big gains in the Senate, but it will be more difficult for them to pick up the 10 seats they need for a majority.

They would need to prevail in seven of eight tight races across the country.

Republican control of even one chamber of Congress would likely spark legislative gridlock, weakening Obama's hand in fights over the extension of soon-to-expire income-tax cuts and the passage of comprehensive energy or immigration bills.

Tuesday's election came after a long and bitter campaign that could sweep Democrats from power in Congress and slam the brakes on President Obama's legislative agenda.

Your Money Your Vote - A CNBC Special Report
Your Money Your Vote - A CNBC Special Report

Anxiety over the stumbling economy and discontent with Obama propelled Republicans to the threshold of huge gains that could give them a majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate.

Opinion polls and independent analysts project Republicans will win at least 50 House seats, far more than the 39 they need to take control and topple Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from power.

Republican control of even one chamber of Congress would likely spark legislative gridlock, weakening Obama's hand in fights over the extension of soon-to-expire income-tax cuts and the passage of comprehensive energy or immigration bills.

Spurred by Obama's handling of the struggling economy, Republicans are heavy favorites to capture at least the 39 Democratic seats they need to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

vote_here2_200.jpg
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They could come close to picking up the 10 Democratic seats they need for Senate control.

Stocks got a boost Wednesday from investors' expectations of strong Republican gains in Congress.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 64.10 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 11,188.72 after eking out a slim gainin a rocky trading session Monday.

The S&P 500 Index rose 9.19 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 1,193.57. The Nasdaq rose 28.68 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 2,533.52, its highest level since June 2008.

Shares in sectors such as healthcare, deemed likely to benefit from the rebalancing of power, advanced.

The outcome also will have a major impact on the financial sector, under new scrutiny this year as a result of regulatory reform legislation.

Major companies affected by this legislation include Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley, Citigroup , Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase .