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Americas

Democrats brace for losses as voters head to the polls

©

Video by Olivia Salazar-Winspear

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-11-02

Opinion polls show Republicans are on track to take the House of Representatives and make gains in the Senate after Tuesday's midterm elections. With voting underway, election officials reported that turnout was strong.

Watch FRANCE 24's special coverage of the US midterm elections, featuring live results, comment and analysis, from 1am to 9am Paris time Wednesday (GMT+1).

US voters are casting their ballots Tuesday in key midterm elections widely expected to hand President Barack Obama's Republican foes control of the House of Representatives and, with it, broad new powers to attack his agenda.

Heavy Senate losses are also expected, but analysts forecast Democrats will cling to a narrow majority, dividing power in Washington and setting the stage for a superheated political war ahead of Obama's 2012 reelection bid.
 
US elections officials reported that turnout appeared strong Tuesday as Democrats and Republicans worked to get their supporters to the polls.
  
Republican voters are fired up by anger at President Barack Obama, so Democrats need their traditionally slicker get-out-the-vote machine to be at its best if they are to limit humiliating losses in Congress.

Final polls pointed to major Republican gains in the House. Some surveys hinting that Republicans could match the 54-seat pickup of 1994, when they won back both the House and the Senate. That election forced then-President Bill Clinton to shift his agenda towards the political centre.
  
FRANCE 24: The Most Expensive US Midterm Election Ever
Polls and forecasters predict Republicans will pick up anywhere between 45 and 70 seats in the House, more than the 39 they need to gain a majority, in a reversal of the huge losses they suffered in 2006 and 2008.
 
"We just can't afford another two years like the past two," Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, wrote in an op-ed in Monday's USA Today. In Cincinnati, Boehner referred to those who called for more limited government as “patriots”.
 
Boehner will all but certainly replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi as majority speaker.
 
In an 11th-hour appeal, President Barack Obama Monday warned that key US elections Tuesday "will have an impact for decades to come" and called on Democrats to get out and vote.
 
Control of the House would allow Republicans to thwart Obama's ambitious plans to tackle global warming and overhaul US immigration, and to control committees that could launch damaging probes into the administration.
  
In the Senate, Democrats worked desperately to deny Republicans the 10 new seats needed to retake the chamber, battling in California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and over Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois.
     
The list of endangered Senate Democrats included Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was locked in a tight race with Republican and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada, home to the country's highest unemployment and home foreclosure rates.
 
In gubernatorial races, contests in Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon remain tossups. Polls show Republicans likely to hit or exceed their target of 30 governor's mansions in their column.
 
Democrats could nevertheless pick up the governor's mansion in California , where Jerry Brown, the state attorney general and a former two-term governor, holds a lead despite record spending by Republican Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay.
 
Aside from the political cost for Obama, these elections have also been the most expensive in the history of the United States, coming in at between $3 and $4 billion.
 
Last January, the United States Supreme Court United States decided that no limit could be placed on the amount spent on campaigns.


“Campaign donations have been linked to the First Amendment,” Paul Vallet, a professor at Sciences Po Paris, told FRANCE 24. “The basis for that argumentation is that free speech should not be regulated. Donating to a campaign is considered free speech.”
 
The election day is set to open along the US East Coast at 6am (1000 GMT) and wrap up after midnight (0400 GMT) in remote Alaska and Hawaii.

 

Date created : 2010-11-02

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