The race for such an obscure post carried big symbolism after women voted for Democrats by an 11-point margin in the presidential and generic congressional races, according to an exit poll by The Associated Press and television networks. Republicans widely decried their party's domination by white males, and Democrats declared themselves the party of diversity.
In the Senate, the GOP was once thought to be poised to gain control of the chamber but instead lost two seats to Democrats. In the House, Republicans retained the majority but lost as many as eight seats, with some races still uncalled. And Obama defeated Romney 332-206 in the Electoral College.
The lessons of the election weighed heavily on the lawmakers returning this week to Capitol Hill for a lame-duck, end-of-year session. McMorris Rodgers' supporters had touted her conservatism and her work as Romney's House liaison. Ryan touted Price as a proven leader and advocate of conservative policies on budget, tax and health care issues. Vote totals were not released.
Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., surrounded herself with other female lawmakers to announce that she will run again for leader despite her party's failure to gain the 25 seats it needed to flip control of the House. The nation's first female speaker of the House, Pelosi largely skipped over that disappointment and focused on election results that she said made her caucus the most diverse in history.