This election may have been about change, but one thing that didn't change is the fact that in politics money still matters.

An analysis of the historic 2008 election by the Center for Responsive Politics has found that most national races were won by the candidate who spent the most. Following the pattern of previous U.S. elections, the bigger spenders won the presidency, 397 of 426 decided House races, and 30 of 32 settled Senate races.

"The 2008 election will go down in U.S. history as an election of firsts, but this was far from the first time that money was overwhelmingly victorious on Election Day," said CRP Executive Director Sheila Krumholz. "The best-funded candidates won nine out of 10 contests, and all but a few members of Congress will be returning to Washington."

This year the average winning House race cost nearly $1.1 million, while the cost of winning a Senate seat was almost $6.5 million. The most expensive Senate race was the $35 million Coleman-Franken battle in Minnesota, which appears headed for a recount. On the House side, the most expensive was the $10 million contest between Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charles Brown in California's 4th District, which also remains undecided.

However, there were two Senate and 29 House races where the bigger spender lost in the end. Ten of those were in the South:

* In North Carolina's U.S. Senate contest, Democratic challenger Kay Hagan spent just over $6 million to defeat incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole, who spent more than $15.7 million. Dole was hurt by the strong turnout for presidential candidate Barack Obama and by a decision to run a controversial ad late in the campaign implying that Hagan -- a former Sunday school teacher -- is an atheist. Hagan has filed a defamation lawsuit over the ad, which Dole refused to pull despite widespread criticism.

* In south Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright spent just shy of $850,000 to squeak by Republican state Rep. Jay Love, who spent more than $1.9 million. Bright -- a social conservative who didn't declare a party affiliation until entering the race -- will succeed eight-term Republican incumbent Terry Everett, who did not run for re-election. The tough contest remained civil, perhaps because both Bright and Love are deacons at Montgomery's First Baptist Church.

* It was no great surprise that Republican challenger Tom Rooney defeated Democratic incumbent Tim Mahoney in Florida's 16th Congressional District despite the fact that Mahoney spent more than twice as much -- $2.4 million compared to just over $1 million. Elected in 2006 after six-term GOP incumbent Mark Foley became embroiled in a scandal over sexually suggestive e-mails to a Congressional page, Mahoney was hurt by recent revelations that he paid a former mistress to conceal an extramarital affair.

* Incumbent Democrat David Scott soundly defeated Republican challenger Deborah Honeycutt in Georgia's 13th Congressional District despite the fact that Honeycutt spent $4.4 million compared to Scott's relatively modest $842,000. Both Scott, a former advertising executive and conservative Blue Dog Democrat, and Honeycutt, a physician, are African Americans in a district west and south of Atlanta that's 44 percent black.

* In south Louisiana's 6th Congressional District encompassing Baton Rouge and surrounding areaas, incumbent Democrat Donald Cazayoux spent almost $2.3 million only to lose to Republican challenger William Cassidy, who spent just over $620,000. This is a longtime GOP seat that Cazayoux surprisingly won in a special election held last May. This year he was hurt by African-American Democratic state Rep. Michael Jackson's independent challenge in a district that's 33 percent black.

* In North Carolina's 8th Congressional District east of Charlotte, incumbent Republican Robin Hayes spent more than $2.5 million only to lose to challenger Larry Kissell, who spent just shy of $1.1 million. A former textile plant manager turned social studies teacher, Kissell focused on trade issues in a district that's been hit hard by textile job losses, hammering multimillionaire textile heir Hayes for reversing stated positions to cast key votes in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the Trade Act of 2002. Hayes also created trouble for himself by declaring at a heated McCain rally that "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

* In coastal South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, incumbent Republican Henry Brown held onto his seat against Democratic challenger Linda Ketner, whose expenditures of $1.6 million were more than double Brown's $700,000 -- which in fact is the same amount Ketner loaned her own campaign. In a district that hasn't elected a Democrat in more than 20 years, the strong run by Ketner -- a businessperson and affordable housing advocate -- garnered 47 percent of the vote and took many Republicans by surprise.

* In the 7th Congressional District of Texas spanning western Houston and surrounding Harris County, incumbent Republican John Culberson, an attorney, faced his toughest challenge to date from Democrat Michael Skelly, a wind energy company executive. Still, Skelly lost by more than 10 percentage points despite outspending Brown by $2.2 million to $1.3 million

* In eastern Virginia's 2nd Congressional District covering Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Democratic challenger Glenn Nye defeated incumbent Republican Thelma Drake with 52 percent of the vote despite spending only about $733,000 compared to Drake's more than $1.3 million. A former State Department officer who served in Kosovo and Macedonia, Nye had the financial backing of Democratic heavy-hitters including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

* In Northern Virginia's 10th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Frank Wolf kept his status as the most senior of the state's Congressional delegation despite being outspent by Democratic challenger Judith Feder by $1.5 million to $941,000. Wolf won handily with 60 percent of the vote despite a video that surfaced late in the campaign showing one of his staffers assault a Feder employee with a cane while Wolf did nothing.