In Maryland Democrats defeated 10-term GOP veteran Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland in a race that was preordained after Democrats controlling the state legislature added more Democratic suburbs near Washington to his western Maryland district.
Embroiled in an unexpectedly tight re-election race was conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
One winner was Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., the Chicago lawmaker who took medical leave from Congress in June and has been at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment of bipolar disorder. His only campaigning has been by automated phone calls to voters.
Anti-abortion Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., was re-elected, overcoming reports that he had pressured a mistress to seek an abortion.
In Kentucky, GOP attorney Andy Barr defeated Democrat Ben Chandler after losing to him by just 647 votes in 2010. Chandler, among a dwindling number of moderate Blue Dog Democrats, has represented the district in Kentucky horse country surrounding Lexington, since 2004 but faced voters who heavily favored Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who easily carried the state over Obama.
Republicans also ousted Rep. Larry Kissell of North Carolina, a two-term veteran who was among several Democrats in the state who faced far tougher districts due to GOP-controlled redistricting.
In Pennsylvania outside Pittsburgh, Republicans defeated Democrat Mark Critz in what was one of the year's most expensive races, with both sides spending a combined $13.7 million.
Also defeated was Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul of New York, who won a 2011 special election to her seat by attacking Republicans for trying to revamp Medicare.
There were 62 districts where no incumbents were running at all, either because they had retired or lost earlier party primaries or because the seats were newly created to reflect the census.
When combined with losses by incumbents, the number of new House members in the next Congress was still below the 91 freshmen who started serving in 2011 — a number unmatched since 1993.
Just weeks ago, Democrats had said they could win the 25 added seats they need to wrest control of the House.
As Obama's lead over Romney shrank as Election Day approached, Democrats' expectations for coattails that would boost their House candidates shrunk as well.
Republicans, building off their enhanced control of statehouses, also did a robust job of protecting their incumbents and weakening Democrats when congressional district lines were redrawn after the 2010 census, especially in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
In addition, out of a record $1.1 billion that House candidates and their allies spent in this year's races, more than 60 percent of it went to Republicans.
The economy and jobs dominated the presidential campaign, but there was little evidence either party had harnessed those issues in a decisive way at the House level. Both sides agreed that this year's election lacked a nationwide wave that would give either side sweeping strength — as occurred when Democrats seized control in 2006 and expanded their majority in 2008, and Republicans snatched the chamber back in 2010.
Polls underscored the public sentiment that Democrats had hoped they could use to their advantage.
A CBS News-New York Times poll late last month showed just 15 percent of Americans approved of how Congress was handling its job, near its historic lows. And an Associated Press-GfK poll in August showed that 39 percent approved of congressional Democrats while just 31 percent were satisfied with congressional Republicans.