Republicans wrapped up Senate control before midnight, their wish list becoming reality:
—Win seats being vacated by retiring Democrats in West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota: Check.
—Defeat vulnerable Democratic incumbents in states such as Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina: Check.
—Protect Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts from a challenge by independent Greg Orman, a man who could help Democrats keep control if the race for a Senate majority came down to a photo finish. Check.
—Fend off Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in her head-on bid for an upset against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader now set to become majority leader. Check.
—See former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown defeat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen across the state line in New Hampshire. Well, you can't have everything.
Republicans needed a net gain of six seats to win control. They got that, and more.
On Tuesday, 36 seats were contested. Going into the election, Democrats held a 53-45 Senate majority, with two independents usually backing them. Tuesday's winners will serve for six years, until the end of the next president's first term.
HOW IT UNFOLDED
West Virginia came first as Rep. Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democrat Natalie Tennant in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller. In Arkansas, two-term Sen. Mark Pryor became the first Democratic incumbent to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. And in South Dakota, former Gov. Mike Rounds won the third seat for the GOP.
Montana, an open seat, also went to Republicans, and they rolled up another hoped-for prize, a turnover in Colorado, where GOP Rep. Cory Gardner defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.
Brown's loss in New Hampshire gave Democrats reason to cheer.
But then North Carolina, the most expensive Senate race in the nation, went to Thom Tilllis, speaker of the state House, in a defeat for incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, and it was game over for the Democratic majority.
HISTORY IS MADE
In South Carolina, GOP Sen. Tim Scott easily won election, becoming the first black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction
Appointed to the Senate after the resignation of Jim DeMint in 2013, Scott won the seat in his own right.
KANSAS GOES FOR ROBERTS
In Kansas, Roberts won re-election despite a strong push by Orman in a state where the Democratic candidate dropped out. Roberts found himself in an unexpectedly close race after he came under fire for being out of touch with the state.
Georgia, another question mark, also stayed in the GOP column.
EYES ON IOWA
Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley in a feisty contest enlivened with TV ads about castrating hogs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada had called the outcome of that race critical. But it wasn't needed to clinch GOP control.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Republican takeover of the Senate is sure to complicate President Barack Obama's agenda in his final two years in office.
But it also raises expectations that Republicans use their dual legislative majorities to govern, not just hold up what Obama wants to do.
Yet the dynamics that have produced so much gridlock in Washington still exist. Obama could veto GOP legislation. Senate Democrats could employ the same delaying tactics on GOP initiatives that Republicans have been using against them.