Republicans were celebrating their return to power in the House of Representatives Tuesday night as they were projected to gain 60 seats, catapulting them to a strong 239-196 majority over the Democrats.

The GOP needed a net gain of 39 seats to win the House but were cleaning up in several places that they had not been expected to declare victory. In Virginia, 14-term Rep. Rick Boucher was defeated by Republican Morgan Griffith in a race that was not high on the radar.

Virginia also saw Democratic Reps. Glenn Nye and Tom Pierriello go down, while Rep. Gerry Connolly was in a tough re-election race.

In other states, several close races broke the GOP way. In Florida, Rep. Alan Grayson lost his re-election bid against Republican Daniel Webster, whom Grayson had woefully misquoted in an ad that sent shockwaves through the district and beyond. But Grayson wasn't the only Floridian to fall. Democratic Reps. Allen Boyd and Suzanne Kosmas also lost in the state.

In Indiana, Democratic Rep. Baron Hill lost his bid for re-election and the GOP took over the seat vacated by Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who was defeated in his Senate bid by Republican Dan Coats.

Throughout the country, much of the sentiment among voters was as much a repudiation of President Obama and the Democratic Congress as approval of House Republicans. Exit polling around the country showed that just over half of voters at the polls disapproved of how Obama is handling his job, and a majority said his policies will likely hurt the country in the long run.

More than a third of voters considered their vote on Tuesday to be an expression of opposition to Obama; only about a quarter said their vote was meant to voice support for the president.

Nearly three in four also disapproved of Congress, and roughly two-thirds of these voters backed Republicans, as did a majority of independents.

White House spokesman Bill Burton told Fox News Radio before the evening's results were in that the president has worked "very hard" with Republicans "to get their ideas, to move forward in a bipartisan way for these last two years. And he has been somewhat frustrated by the lack of cooperation he's gotten from the other side."

"But the president doesn't think anyone has a monopoly on good ideas and he's going to continue to work with people of both parties to make sure we are moving this country in the right direction," Burton said.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who was not in a competitive race, said Tuesday's election was "a referendum on the Obama agenda, and the American people rejected it."

Calling the vote a "mandate" on limited government, Issa said the message to Washington is clear. "Advance an agenda that will create real jobs, not government jobs, but real jobs to get our economy moving again. Reduce the footprint of government in our lives, get government to live within its means and make government more transparent and accountable," he said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, a House Republican leadership aide told FoxBusiness.com that Republican leaders have been meeting since the middle of October to "sort out the priorities of the new Congress," and plan to cast their first three votes in the new Congress on issues from the Republican Pledge to America.

The first vote is expected to be on bringing discretionary spending back to 2008 levels. The aide said a vote will also be held on a permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates. Republicans expect Congress to extend the full Bush tax cuts for one year in the upcoming lame duck session, the aide said.

Third, Republicans say they want to vote on a repeal of the health care law. But this will be tricky.  Like most lawmakers, Republicans will find it difficult to rescind benefits.  Allowing people to stay on their parents' insurance plans until they're 26 years old and curbs on insurance companies dropping customers are popular.

Also, the Congressional Budget Office says the health care law will make money over the next decade. If Republicans want to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement, for example, they'll have to raise taxes or cut spending elsewhere -- if they use the current pay-as-you-go procedure -- because the provision is expected to net the government billions of dollars over time.

Fox Business' Rich Edson contributed to this report.