Republicans flipped North Carolina, a state that hasn't elected a GOP governor since the 1980s, expanding their national lead over Democrats at the statehouse level..
Eleven states held governors' races Tuesday. Democrats were defending eights seats, Republicans three.
By Wednesday afternoon, CNN had projected winners in all but one of the elections -- Washington -- where mail-in ballots to be counted make up about 40% of the votes. It is expected to take several more days before the race can be called.
The latest to be called was in Montana, where Democrat state attorney general Steve Bullock defeated former congressman Rick Hill, a Republican.
In North Carolina, Republican candidate Pat McCrory bested Walter Dalton, the sitting lieutenant governor, CNN projected.
McCrory, who will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, would be the first Republican governor elected in North Carolina since 1988.
"There's no doubt that the Republican Party's strength comes from the states, and the RGA's ability to expand our majority provides optimism for the future," said Republican Governors Association Chairman Bob McDonnell.
With their expected wins in North Carolina and the states they were defending, Republicans will have at least 30 governorships nationwide -- the highest number held by either party since 2000, according to the governors association. The all-time high for the GOP was 34 seats in the 1920s.
Democrats hold 18 governorships, with an independent and another to be decided.
Such an advantage will fortify the Republican position against Democratic policies like Obamacare, and give them influence in Washington, even with Barack Obama as president.
In other races, CNN projected that Democrats will retain control of the governors' mansions in West Virginia and New Hampshire. The race in New Hampshire to replace a popular outgoing governor was one of the country's most competitive.
Democratic governors in Vermont and Delaware -- Peter Shumlin and Jack Markell -- won re-election, CNN projected. Similarly, Republican incumbents in Utah and North Dakota -- Gary Herbert and Jack Dalrymple -- were projected to win.
In Missouri, Democrat Jay Nixon became the first governor there re-elected to a second term since 1996, CNN projected. In Indiana, CNN projected that Republican Rep. Mike Pence will fill the shoes of outgoing Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Going into the election, Democrats held 20 governorships to the Republicans' 29. Rhode Island is held by an independent.
Here are snapshots of each race:
Gov. Jack Markell (D) vs. Jeff Cragg (R)
CNN has projected Democratic Gov. Jack Markell will be serving a second term, beating his Republican opponent, Jeff Cragg.
Delaware has become an increasingly reliable Democratic state and with the defeat of former Rep. Mike Castle in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary, the state now has no Republicans in statewide elected office. Cragg, a small-business owner from Wilmington was unlikely to change the GOP's fortunes, especially in a presidential election year with Vice President Joe Biden, a Delaware native, on the Democratic ticket.
(Open seat) -- Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is term-limited
Rep. Mike Pence (R) vs. John Gregg (D) vs. Rupert Boneham (Libertarian)
CNN has projected Republican Rep. Mike Pence will win the governor's race in Indiana, beating Democratic competitor John Gregg.
Pence, having already served six terms as a member of the House of Representatives, mulled a 2012 presidential bid but opted instead to run for governor to replace term-limited Republican incumbent Mitch Daniels. Gregg is the former Indiana House speaker.
Pence's win was thought as likely. Years in Congress and on the Sunday talk show circuit, as well as his brief foray in near-presidential politics, gave him a relatively high profile for a state candidate. Indiana is also a Republican-friendly state, with Republicans controlling the governorship, a U.S. Senate seat and a majority of U.S. House seats.