Anecdotal reports from around the country suggested the turnout in some of the closely contested Senate races – in Virginia and Missouri for example – was at a level not seen for many years in a midterm vote, in an atmosphere supercharged by a divisive war and a string of political scandals. Both parties claimed encouragement from the high turnout.
Exit-polling suggested corruption was the main issue on people’s minds, closely followed by terrorism, the economy and Iraq. More than 60% of the electorate said they were voting on national rather than local issues and 62% said they disapproved of the job Congress was doing.
The intensity of the battle was reflected in the widespread claims of dirty tricks.
The FBI’s special election unit was called to Virginia to investigate last night after allegations that Democratic party supporters in eight counties had been targeted by telephone calls threatening them with legal scrutiny if they went to the polls and giving misleading information about the location of polling stations. In Kentucky, a poll worker was arrested for trying to throttle a voter.