Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Judgement day as US votes

From The Australian, November 08, 2006, by Tom Baldwin and Tim Reid ...

AMERICANS began voting today in Congressional elections that could turn George Bush into a lame duck President for his final two years in office, as well as having profound consequences for the future course of US foreign policy in Iraq and beyond.

Follow this link for Interactive summary of the Mid-term elections

... Democrats remain hopeful that they can seize control of the House of Representatives by making a net gain of 15 seats out of 435 being contested. Polls suggest that they have established clear leads in 13 districts, while a further 15 are judged as too close to call.

.... The first indication of the scale of electoral upheaval may come in results from what is being termed the "killing fields" of the economically depressed Ohio River Valley, which snakes westwards from Pennsylvania through up to half a dozen seats in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

The Democrats also have a fair chance of retaking the Senate, where they must make six net gains from the 15 seats being defended by the Republicans. An early indication of whether this will be possible will come in exit polls from Virginia, where the Republican Senator George Allen has faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from the Democrat Jim Webb. But a flurry of final-day opinion polls suggested that the Republicans were regaining some lost ground.

Nationally, the Democrats still lead by 6 per cent, down from 10 per cent a week ago. Although some polls for bitterly contested Senate seats such as Virginia and Montana suggested that the Republican incumbents are drawing even or pulling ahead, it is an indication of how volatile these races have become that other surveys published in the past 24 hours gave the Democrats increased leads.

... The final 24 hours of campaigning was marked by bitter clashes once again over Iraq. The Democrats angrily dismissed Republican claims that they were "happy to lose" in Iraq, but insisted that today’s vote nonetheless gave America "the chance to change the direction" of the both the country and the war. Nancy Pelosi, who will become first female House speaker if the Democrats win tonight, said that she was cautiously optimistic about her party’s prospects. ....

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