The 2010 election results should not be interpreted as an "affirmation" of Republicans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee who's up for reelection today, said the losses Democrats are expected to suffer nationwide were more about frustration over President Obama and incumbent Democrats than anything else.

"The moral of this story is that this election is a repudiation of Obama and the Democrats," McCain said on Fox News. "It is not an affirmation of Republicans. So Republicans have got to come through and satisfy this outcry — this anger and frustration — that's been expressed."

Republicans are expected to pick up the net gain of 39 seats they need to win back the House and make major pickups in the Senate — though probably not enough to win a majority. Those kinds of wins are leading some Republicans to claim a "wave" on their behalf this cycle.

But McCain said the GOP would now face pressure to deliver on its expectations, partially from the Tea Party movement — the ascendant group of grassroots conservatives who have sought to drag the Republican Party further right. 

Delivering on those promises, the Arizona senator said, meant following through on promises and not compromising.

"We can't compromise on spending. We can't compromise on regulations. We can't compromise on repeal and replace of ObamaCare," he said. "We can't compromise on the out-of-control spending practices that, frankly, we engaged in when Republicans were in control and I fought against."