American voters cast ballots Tuesday in
congressional, state and local elections. The results will have a big
impact on the last two years of the Bush administration.
The stakes in this election are incredibly high, with control of the
U.S. Congress hanging in the balance.
In the weeks leading up to Election Day, polls showed most Americans
want Democrats to hold the majority in the legislature. But in the final
days of the campaign, with all House seats and one-third of the Senate
contested, many races tightened.
Leaving nothing to chance, President Bush took to the road on behalf of
Republican candidates, visiting 10 states in five days. In the final
hours, he spent his time energizing the Republican base.
"Republicans are going to turn out. It is going to be a great victory of
November 7th!," he said.
He focused his efforts in states where Republicans are traditionally
strong. Aides said his message was designed to reach far beyond the party
faithful gathered in arenas, parks and airport hangars for last-minute
He urged them to vote, and to encourage others to do the same. "And as
you are going into those polls remember, if you want your taxes low, vote
Republican. And as you go to the polls remember we are at war and if you
want this country to do everything in its power to protect you, and at the
same time lay the foundation of peace for generations to come, vote
Republican," he said.
The president sounded upbeat on election eve. But so did the top
campaign strategist for Senate Democrats, Senator Charles Schumer of New
York. "We feel very, very good for a couple of reasons. First, Democrats
are more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans. Fifty two percent of
Democrats say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual. Thirty
nine percent of Republicans say they are," he said.
Democrats hope that enthusiasm will translate into massive party gains
in Congress. They need a net gain of 15 seats to take control of the House
of Representatives, and six seats in the Senate.
Polls indicate they have a good chance of becoming the majority party
in the 435-member House. But Senator Schumer acknowledges it will be much
tougher to take over the 100-seat Senate. "We have never said we are going
to take control of the Senate. We have said we are on the edge. That's
where we are. I said the other day what I feel: the likelihood of four,
five or six seats is greater than three or seven," he said.
Although congressional races are often won and lost on local and state
issues, public opinion surveys show this year Iraq is the leading concern
on the mind of the electorate.
Senator Schumer maintains the American people are hungry for change.
But the president has been telling voters that the Democrats have no plans
for dealing with the toughest problems facing the country, and, he says,
Republicans have proven they can build the economy and keep America