The election could have an immediate impact on Republican recruitment of candidates for next year’s races. “Republicans who are on the fence, good quality guys and women, might jump in now,” party consultant Eddie Mahe said.

More than half of the 54 Republicans first elected to the House in 1994, which ended 40 years of Democratic control of the chamber, didn’t decide to run until after the party swept the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in 1993, according to Republican officials.

“There has been a bit of a rehabilitation of the Republican brand,” Democratic consultant Glenn Totten said. Even so, he said, Republicans in 2010 “are still going against what I think is a fairly uphill battle in most of these cases.”