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Voters Hit the Polls for Midterm Election

November 2, 2010 at 4:47 PM EDT

KWAME HOLMAN: All of that at a time of widespread economic uncertainty and a Tea Party insurgency driven by strong opposition to President Obama’s agenda.

For his part, the president was heard, but not seen today during both taped and live interviews with radio hosts. He checked in with Ryan Seacrest, the host of “American Idol,” on his morning drive radio show in Los Angeles, looking to stoke up the youth vote.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You have got to get out there and vote. You know, young people all across this country, they’re the ones who are going to make the difference, not just now, but in the future.

KWAME HOLMAN: By late today, reports from elections officials around the country suggested turnout generally was steady, but, in several states, participation was above average.

At stake today, control of both houses of Congress, with more than a third of the U.S. Senate up. That’s 37 seats, 18 currently occupied by Republicans, 19 by Democrats. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives were on the ballot. And 37 of 50 governor’s offices will have new or reelected occupants.

The breakdown in the current Congress shows 57 Senate seats held by Democrats and two independents who caucus with them, for a total of 59 — 41 seats are occupied by Republicans. In the House, Democrats hold 255 seats, Republicans 178. And there are two vacancies.

Most polls showed Republicans virtually assured of winning at least the 39 seats they need to capture the House. Their leader, and perhaps speaker in waiting, John Boehner, voted in his Ohio district this morning.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House Minority Leader: For those who think there’s too much spending, think there’s too many takeovers, too many bailouts, too many bailouts, this is their opportunity to be heard.

KWAME HOLMAN: Republicans faced longer odds in the Senate, with GOP Candidates in Connecticut and Delaware lagging in the polls by hefty margins.

Among the other marquee races, the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, was in danger of losing to Republican and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. In West Virginia, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin and businessman John Raese were in a tight race to succeed the late Robert Byrd.

In Pennsylvania, voters chose between Republican Pat Toomey…

PAT TOOMEY (R-PA), Senatorial Candidate: I’m confident, and I think our supporters are very energized. We have a great, great grassroots network on the ground in 67 counties of Pennsylvania. I think they’re going to turn out to vote for us.

KWAME HOLMAN: … and Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak.

REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), Senatorial Candidate: Just a heck of a lot of that enthusiasm out there.

KWAME HOLMAN: And, in Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias battled to fill what was once President Obama’s Senate seat.

With so much uncertainty about so many crucial races, it promised to be a long night of vote-counting across the nation. Regardless of the outcome, White House officials announced that the president will speak to the results in an afternoon news conference tomorrow.