U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and republican U.S. Senate elect in Arkansas speaks to supporters during an election night gathering on November 4, 2014 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Cotton defeated two-term incumbent democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
For the first time since 2006, Republicans on Tuesday took control of the U.S. Senate, with the GOP gaining at least seven seats to retake the majority. Republicans also expanded the party's majority in the House, where the GOP will have the most seats since the Truman administration.
But there were plenty of other firsts on Election night. From the first female veteran voted into the Senate to the first black senator elected in the South since Reconstruction, it was a historic night. Below, some of the most notable firsts.
• Joni Ernst, Iowa's first female senator
In a big-money race, Republican Joni Ernst defeated Democrat Bruce Braley on Tuesday to become Iowa's first woman in Congress — and the first female veteran in the history of the U.S. Senate.
Ernst, a 44-year-old state senator and military commander from Red Oak, Iowa, will fill the seat currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who is retiring in January.
Ernst burst onto the national scene with a campaign ad highlighting her hog castration experience as an Iowa farm girl. The video, entitled "Squeal," became a viral hit, attracting 700,000 views on YouTube.
"It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, from the biscuit line at Hardee's to the United States Senate," Ernst said in her victory speech. "But thanks to all of you, we are heading to Washington. And we are going to make ‘em squeal."
According to the Des Moines Register, the race was also the most expensive in Iowa history, with $79 million spent between the two candidates.
• Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia's first female senator
Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democratic opponent Natalie Tennant to become West Virginia's first female in the U.S. Senate, and the first GOP senator elected by the Mountain State in 56 years. Capito, 60, will replace Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring after 30 years in office.
"Capito hails from a prominent political family," the Washington Post notes. "Her father, Arch Moore, represented West Virginia in Congress and was also elected governor three times. Her political career began in the West Virginia House of Delegates, where she served two terms before seeking a congressional seat."
And, importantly, in 2012, Capito "was named defensive MVP of the bipartisan women’s Capitol Hill softball team. Known as the 'brick wall' of third base, she is one of the team’s captains."
• Elise Stefanik, youngest woman ever elected to U.S. Congress
Republican Elise Stefanik become the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, defeating Democrat Aaron Woolf in the race in New York's 21st open district. The 30-year-old is also the first GOP candidate to win the district, which had been held by Democratic Rep. Bill Owens since 2009.
Before Stefanik, the youngest woman in Congress was New York Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman, who was 31 when elected in 1973.
"Stefanik is no stranger to Washington," ABC News notes. "She worked in President George W. Bush's administration on the Domestic Policy Council and oversaw economic and domestic policy in the chief of staff's office for Josh Bolten. She also served as director of debate preparation during Rep. Paul Ryan's vice presidential campaign, and helped author the Republican National Committee's platform in 2012."
With the additions of Stefanik, Capito, Ernst and others, there are now more than 100 women in Congress for the first time ever.
• Scott Brown, first man to lose to a female opponent twice
Speaking of women, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen won re-election, defeating former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. For Brown, it's the second time he's lost to a woman. In 2010, Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley to capture Massachusetts' open Senate seat that had long been held by Ted Kennedy. But in 2012, Brown was beaten by Elizabeth Warren. In 2013, he moved to New Hampshire.
• Tim Scott, first black senator elected in the South since Reconstruction
Tim Scott won in South Carolina, becoming the first African-American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Senate and elected to a statewide office.
Scott defeated another African-American, Democratic challenger Joyce Dickerson, and third-party candidate Jill Bossi. Scott, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in December 2012 to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Jim DeMint.
CNN reported that Scott's win also makes him the first African-American in U.S. history to be elected to both the House and the Senate.
"My skin color is talked about often," Scott said Tuesday. "Tonight I want to talk about it for just a moment. In South Carolina, in America, it takes a generation to go from having a grandfather who is picking cotton, to a grandson in Congress. We are thankful for those trailblazers who came before us and said the status quo was not enough. I stand on the shoulders of giants. Our values and our issues are central. The most important things we have to offer are on the inside. This is the testament to progress made."
• Mia Love, first black Republican woman elected to Congress
Tim Scott wasn't the only African-American to make history on election night. Utah's Mia Love became the first black Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Love, a former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, ran in 2012 but lost.
"Tonight you have made history!" Love told supporters after winning the state's fourth House district. "Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black Republican LDS (Latter-day Saint) woman to Congress. Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!"
Love edged Democrat Doug Owens to win the open seat.
"I wasn't elected because of the color of my skin," Love told CNN Wednesday morning. "I wasn't elected because of my gender. I was elected because of the solution I put at the table."
• George P. Bush, first Bush to win first political race
George P. Bush — the 38-year-old son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush — was elected Texas land commissioner on Tuesday, making him the first in his family's political dynasty to win his first race.
"His grandfather lost a U.S. Senate race in Texas in 1964, while his uncle lost his 1978 congressional bid," CBS News notes. "Jeb Bush wasn't elected Florida governor until his second try, and Prescott Bush, George P.'s great-grandfather, came up short in his first Senate race in 1950."