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Democratic Takeover of House of Representatives Reflects Disatisfaction With Republican Policies


Projections say the opposition Democratic Party in the United States has swept Republicans from power in the House of Representatives. It is still too early to determine which party will control the Senate for the next two years. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

The projections were made on the basis of exit polls conducted by the Associated Press and U.S. television networks. Those polls showed that scandals in Washington, the war in Iraq and the unpopularity of President Bush helped the opposition Democrats.

In those exit polls, three out of four voters say political corruption was very important to their vote, and they tended to vote for Democratic Party candidates.

Two out of three voters called the war in Iraq very important to them, while six in 10 voters say they oppose the war.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says when his party takes control of the House there will be an effort to change the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.

"Iraq is complicated," said Howard Dean. "The president will still be in charge of foreign policy and the military as he is today. But I think you will see a consensus in Congress that says we ought not to be in Iraq. It was a mistake to get in there. We were misled when we did get in there and Iraq is now a mess."

Republican Senator John McCain, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, concedes the results of the election are due in part to the American public's frustration over the bloodshed in Iraq. He predicts, however, that most members of Congress will not support an immediate withdrawal.

"I still believe that if you leave at a date certain or precipitously then chaos would ensue," said John McCain. "Most every military expert I know feels the same way. So we have got to prevail here, but I understand the frustration Americans feel."

With the Democrats projected to take control in the House, the likely new speaker, or leader, would be Nancy Pelosi of California. She would be the first woman to hold that post in the nation's history.

Pelosi told a cheering crowd at Democratic Party headquarters in Washington that Americans have voted for Congress to move in a new direction.

"Democrats support change," said Nancy Pelosi. "Democrats propose a new direction for all Americans, not just the privileged few."

Democratic Senator Barack Obama, another possible candidate for president in two years, says he believes members of his party in Congress will work in a productive manner and not seek revenge against Republicans.

"I think there is a lot of interest on the part of Democrats to work constructively and quickly to send a message to the American people that we want to govern," said Barack Obama. "I think it is absolutely critical that Democrats focus, not on payback, but on progress."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman also says it will be important for the members of his party to work with the Democrats.

"I think that fundamentally we need to put coalitions together to make sure that we don't have Iraq turning into another Afghanistan, that we work together on behalf of things, on behalf of the American people," said Ken Mehlman. "I think that is critical."

The elections appear to have gone smoothly in most of the 50 states, although polling hours in some areas were extended because of problems with electronic equipment.

In the Southeastern state of Virginia the FBI is investigating complaints that attempts were made to mislead some people to keep them from voting.

Voters are choosing 435 lawmakers in the House of Representatives, 33 members of the Senate and governors in 36 states.

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