Democrats expected to deepen their majorities in both chambers of US Congress, riding on the popularity of presidential candidate Barack Obama and unpopularity of US President George W. Bush, a Republican.
Long lines formed as polls opened before daybreak in about a dozen Eastern seaboard states. Democrats were counting on heavy turnout to capture more than 20 Republican seats in the House of Representatives, although the man who heads the Democratic campaign committee cautioned that the gains might not be in the range that some pundits had envisioned.
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said Tuesday that a high turnout for Barack Obama should help Democratic down-ballot candidates. But over the past few days, he said, "we saw actually a tightening in a lot of races. That is why I've been careful ... about these huge numbers people are talking about."
Worried Republicans have taken to warning that the United States faces the possibility of strongly Democratic House and Senate memberships at the same time there's a Democratic president. They say that, unchecked, Democrats will go on a spending spree to expand social programs.
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