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GOP puts heat on Obama as election nears

Michelle Obama (Getty)

Michelle Obama (Getty)

On the eve of midterm elections, voters angry at the stubbornly battered economy seemed poised to give Republicans control of the U.S. House, creating potential for legislative gridlock in Congress.

Today’s election could be a strong rebuke of the Obama administration, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll yesterday that showed 50 percent of Americans are expected to vote Republican, with 44 percent voting Democrat.

The poll showed President Barack Obama’s approval rating to be at 45 percent. The president stayed off the stump yesterday, but worked the phones from the White House in a last-ditch effort to save his party’s majority.

The president’s arguably more popular wife Michelle meanwhile campaigned yesterday in Las Vegas for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who’s in danger of losing his seat to Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle.

“My husband can’t do this alone,” she said, urging Nevadans to get out the vote. “You need to tell them that they can’t just vote once and hope for change to happen.”

Still, Ipsos pollster Cliff Young said discontented Americans are expected to vote Republicans into office because the party is perceived to be more business-minded and tougher on issues such as jobs and taxes.

“It just reconfirms the present environment in which we are in, a bad economy that has been prolonged,” Young said. “People are basically not optimistic about the near future and they are going to take it out on the party in power, specifically the president and his administration.”

In the House, Republicans are projected to win 231 seats to control the chamber, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll. In the Senate, Democrats should cling to their majority with either a margin of 52 blue seats to 48 Republican ones or 53 to 47, the poll found.

In governors’ races, Republicans hoped for control of 12 statehouses, with key toss-up contests in Florida and Ohio.

Republican gains might be apparent as early as 7 or 8 p.m. today. The GOP must capture dozens of Democratic seats in the Northeast and Midwest — where polls will be the first to close — to expand its influence.

Whatever the outcome, tonight’s election returns promise cliffhangers.

“You are going to have some real upsets that nobody saw coming, and you’ll have some Democrats surviving who weren’t expected to survive,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. “And you have to figure out the balance. Which side of the ledger is building up more chips?”

(With Reuters)

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