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Angry Campaigns End on an Angrier Note

Senior strategists in both parties said the GOP is virtually certain to lose 10 seats, mostly because of a variety of scandals. If these projections are correct, Republicans would have to win more than three-quarters of the 30 or so races that were tied heading into the final weekend.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who released a survey of 50 districts yesterday showing Democrats up 49 percent to 44 percent, said Republicans have closed the gap slightly, but not enough to save their majority. "I don't see any evidence of anything but a minor pushback of getting some of the most partisan Republicans re-engaged," Greenberg said. Using his poll, he predicted Democrats will win 30 to 35 seats "as a conservative estimate."

It will be much harder for Democrats to pick up the six seats needed to control the Senate. GOP Sens. Mike DeWine (Ohio) and Rick Santorum (Pa.) are far behind in state-based polling, but Republicans have a shot at winning the five other targeted GOP seats: in Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. Republicans also have a chance to pick up Democratic seats in Maryland and New Jersey, though both are uphill efforts.

Three premier contests -- Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia -- have been in the tossup category for several weeks. Republicans said yesterday that they think Tennessee is the most likely of the three to remain in their hands. Democrats said a big turnout among black voters is Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr.'s best chance for a narrow victory over former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, who polls show has taken control of the race in recent days. In Virginia, Sen. George Allen (R) is fighting for his political life against Democrat James Webb, while the race in Missouri between Sen. James M. Talent (R) and State Auditor Claire McCaskill is considered the tightest.

Two other races have given Republicans reason to hope that they can hold the Senate. In Rhode Island, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R) has closed the gap in his contest against former attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse. But Chafee is running into one of the stiffest headwinds in the country, with only about a quarter of voters there approving of Bush's performance.

In Montana, weekend polls painted a conflicting picture of the battle between Sen. Conrad Burns (R) and state Senate President Jon Tester. One survey showed a tie, while another gave Tester a clear lead. Bush and Vice President Cheney campaigned there last week, but Tester has been getting help from popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Campaign volunteers continued to make telephone calls and walk precincts in the most contested races in an effort to maximize voter turnout. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that as of Saturday, 41 percent of registered voters said they had been contacted directly by a campaign or party, up from 29 percent two weeks earlier.

Of those who said they had been contacted, 29 percent said they had heard from Republicans, 20 percent said they had heard from Democrats and 41 percent said they had been contacted by both parties. Several officials said this comports with anecdotal evidence that Republicans have done a better job than Democrats of reaching voters in the final stretch.

"We've got to get our votes out," former president Bill Clinton said during a campaign stop for House candidates in New York. "There are still people who will go to the polls tomorrow not entirely sure of who they're going to vote for because, frankly, a lot of these people never voted for us before."

Washingtonpost.com staff writer Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.


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