[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/04/house.races.results/art.chris.shays.gi.jpg caption=" Rep. Chris Shays, R-Connecticut, failed to win his 11th full term."]
(CNN) - Democrats appeared to have padded their 36-seat majority in the U.S. House, defeating a few established Republicans and winning some open contests as they tried to capitalize on an unpopular GOP president.
Democrats clinched a majority and took at least 21 seats from Republicans, with the GOP taking only four from the Democrats, according to CNN projections as of 4 a.m. ET Wednesday.
With winners yet to be called for 12 of the House's 435 seats, Democrats were projected to win 251 seats, with Republicans having 172.
Heading into Election Day, the Democrats had a 235-199 majority. The Democrats' apparent gains Tuesday come two years after they took control of the House - with a gain of 30 seats - after 12 years in the minority.