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Americans Vote in Tight Mid-Term Elections

It is Election Day in the United States. Voters will choose all 435 lawmakers in the House of Representatives, 33 senators, and governors in 36 states.

Opposition Democrats hope to win control of the House for the first time in 12 years and are challenging Republican control in the U.S. Senate.

Most public opinion polls say Democrats could win the 15 additional seats they need for a majority in the House, but will have a harder time picking up six seats in the Senate with close races in the states of Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and Rhode Island.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman says his party is closing the gap in many of the key Congressional contests, and Republican voters have a real opportunity to surprise electoral experts.

"I believe we have seen a surge over the weekend,” he said. “We have seen some real momentum. And the reason is, I think people are focusing on the choice."

In an interview with the American television network NBC, Mehlman said voters are thinking about taxes and how he says Democrats will raise those rates if they win control of the House.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told the Bloomberg news service that his party will work to bring down federal deficit spending.

"Our job, if we win, will not be to set the new direction for the entire country immediately, because we will not have the presidency, but we will be able to mitigate the rough edges,” said Dean. “I think you will see a real attempt to balance the budget."

This election will decide much of the final two years of the Bush Presidency. Holding on to Republican majorities in Congress would make it easier for the president to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and make permanent record tax cuts that he says have helped the economy.

Democrats in charge of either house of Congress would have subpoena power to investigate the president's handling of the war, which a majority of Americans now say was a mistake.

Dean says Democrats believe it is time for a new direction in Iraq.

"Probably not being in Iraq would be a big improvement to our security status around the world. The problem is that you cannot get out so easily,” he added. “Now that we have created this enormous mess and there is a civil war going on, we've got to figure out how to get out carefully, but get out we need to do."

Mehlman says that is why voters mistrust Democrats on national security issues because he says the opposition party does not understand that leaving Iraq would make America less safe.

"Look, the terrorists have said their goal is to turn Iraq into another Afghanistan,” said Mehlman. “One of the lessons of 9/11 was how dangerous Afghanistan is. Except, Iraq sits right in between Syria and Iran, Iraq is home to the world's second-largest oil reserves. If we were to let them have that kind of victory, it would be a recruiting poster for jihadists all around the world."

While Congressional elections traditionally focus on local issues, Iraq has dominated much of this campaign. The latest poll by the CNN television network shows a majority of voters now believe Democrats would do a better job handling that war.