Democrats win control of House

Democrats picked up 27 seats in the House, only needing 15 to gain control, with another 26 seats undecided.

Political analysts point to the Democrats riding a tide of anger towards President George W Bush, the Iraq war and Republican scandals.

It deals a hammer blow to Mr Bush’s hopes of polishing his legacy in his final two years in office.

Republican incumbents crashed to defeat in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Rhode Island, according to television network projections.

Mr Bush watched from the White House as his Republican Party’s majority on power was shattered, and his party failed to pick up a single Democratic seat, and disappointed aides admitted defeat in the House.

“We believe Democrats will have control of the House, and look forward to working with Democratic leaders on the issues that remain foremost on the agenda, including winning the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror and keeping the economy on a growth path,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

Mr Bush scheduled a news conference on Wednesday and was expected to reach out to Democratic House leaders keen to handcuff his power during his waning days in the White House.

Iraq issue

Democratic House strategist Rahm Emmanuel, who masterminded the victory, told supporters that voters had demanded action, as US troops died in droves in Iraq.

“All Americans have recognised and finally acknowledged that what we’re doing in Iraq isn’t working and we desperately need to change course,” he said in Washington.

On a banner night for the party, Keith Ellison from Minnesota became the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Hillary Clinton as expected crushed her Republican rival to claim a second term in the Senate further spurring expectations of a 2008 presidential run.

“We believe in our country and we’re going to take it back, starting tonight!” the former First Lady told supporters in New York. “New Yorkers and Americans … want a new beginning for our beloved country.”

“The message couldn’t be clearer: that it is time for a new course,” she said.

Incumbents ousted

Democrats in midwestern Indiana led the charge, ousting Republicans in three seats. A Republican incumbent was also toppled in Kentucky.

In Pennsylvania, senior House member Curt Weldon and another Republican also fell. Republicans were also toppled in New York, tumbled in Pennsylvania.

Democrats also picked up three of the six seats they needed in the Senate, with Democrat Bob Casey projected to beat conservative Republican Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.

Outgoing Ohio House member Sherrod Brown ousted Republican Senator Mike DeWine, according to network calls, in a state badly hit by economic problems and the deaths of reserve soldiers in Iraq.

Maverick Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island also lost, despite parting with Bush on several key foreign policy questions, networks projected.

US media also said Democrats would retain a contested seat in New Jersey though Republicans dismissed claims Democrats would cling onto a Senate seat in Maryland.