As polls close, Nancy Pelosi says she's confident of staying Speaker

As polls close, Nancy Pelosi says she's confident of staying Speaker

The first polls close at 6 p.m. ET, and both parties are expressing confidence they’ll prevail with voters.



But polling leading up to the Election Day told a different story.

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Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to take control of the lower chamber and most non-partisan analysts believe the GOP will get that and might even top the 52 House seats Republicans won in 1994. But unlike 1994, most believe the GOP will fall short in its effort to win back the Senate.



The final polls don’t close until midnight, but Tuesday night will likely be remembered as the GOP comeback, where, after two cycles of losing substantial ground in Congress, the Republicans were able to put the Democrats on the defense. By the time voters went to the polls, more than 100 House seats were in play, including those belonging to longtime Democratic incumbents, such as Reps. Ike Skelton (Mo.), Barney Frank (Mass.) and John Dingell (Mich.).



Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon in Washington, said she was confident she would retain her gavel.



Pelosi said Democrats were “on pace to retain the majority in the House of Representatives.”



“The people have to speak. We are very confident in our candidates and the message they are delivering, to preserve Social Security and make it in America,” Pelosi said.



Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said “millions of people around the country are proving the Washington pundits absolutely wrong. We’re seeing high levels of energy on the Democratic side.”



“This thing is not over,” Van Hollen said. “In fact, voters are sending the opposite message.”



He said Democrats were seeing strong turnout in key precincts, without citing specifics.



House GOP Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director MORE (Ohio) also voiced confidence after casting his ballot, saying it was “going to be a big day.”



“I think we have a real opportunity to win the majority, and hopefully my colleagues will elect me Speaker,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director MORE said.



Pelosi and Boehner will be in Washington election night and are expected to address supporters at their respective party gatherings Tuesday night.




The 2010 campaign played out against the backdrop of nearly double-digit unemployment and widespread economic anxiety. President Obama and his party tried to reassure voters their work kept the situation from getting worse, but polls showed voters were pessimistic about the direction the country was going.



Throughout 2009, House Democrats vowed they had learned their lessons from the 1994 election, but it appears that history will repeat itself in the lower chamber.



Republicans, meanwhile, ran against the stimulus and healthcare law, which polls showed were unpopular with voters. The GOP also campaigned heavily on controlling government spending and not raising taxes.



Republicans in the Senate are expected to pick up about eight seats, short of the 10 they need to recapture control.



National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John CornynJohn CornynPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week MORE (Texas) conceded Monday that winning back the Senate would take two election cycles. “I think we don’t get the majority back, but we come awfully close, and we finish the job in 2012,” he told NBC’s “Today” show. Democrats will be defending more than double the seats that Republicans hold in 2012.



Obama spent Monday and Tuesday in closed-door meetings at the White House, although he did give several radio interviews in order to encourage voter turnout. The president plans a 1 p.m. news conference Wednesday to respond to the election results.



-- Russell Berman and Michael O’Brien contributed to this article.