With hours to go before the crucial mid-term elections, and control of Congress up for grabs, the political focus in the United States is on getting as many people as possible out to vote. The polls show that the race is closing and analysts believe the outcome could hinge on which party is more successful at turning out voters. Republicans and Democrats have recruited thousands of volunteers to work the phones and canvass marginal neighbourhoods. On a last minute whistle-stop campaign to rally southern states, President George W. Bush told supporters in Florida that the Republican campaign has the upper hand and is heading for victory.
But despite the incumbent advantage, they are on the defensive over a series of sex and corruption scandals, and Bush is weaker in the polls than this time last year. The Democrats have made political capital out of increasing anger over the Iraq war and are upbeat about their chances. Latest research suggests 58 percent of voters would opt for them and only 38 percent for Republicans.
The number of ballots cast is historically low in non-presidential year elections. On average, only around 40 percent of citizens who are eligible to vote turn out to do so.
The Democrats need to win 15 new seats to gain control of the Lower House and 6 to swing the Upper.