Republicans set to win in US elections

DEMOCRATS are widely forecast to lose control of the House of Representatives today as Americans go to the polls in the US midterm elections, but President Barack Obama’s party could hang on in the Senate. Polls put the Republican lead at between six and 15 per cent, with Democrats especially vulnerable in the south.

The US polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight says 40 seats in the House lean toward a Democratic victory and only 29 towards the Republicans, but 42 remain a “toss-up” and the Republican party only needs to gain 44 seats to wrest control from its opponents.

The presence of 16 Republican candidates for the Senate and House who are affiliated with the low-tax Tea Party movement has added to the unpredictability of the race, with suggestions that, if elected, they could act as a bloc to oppose tax rises and spending increases.

But it is not clear that a Republican House would result in measures to curb America’s ballooning budget deficit, which is forecast to reach 11 per cent of GDP this year. Despite Republicans regarding themselves as a party of deficit hawks, the party has a patchy record on public finances.

Americans could also face tax rises if Democrats lose control of the House. The tax cuts brought in by former President George W Bush will expire by 2011 without an affirmative vote, making a cross-party deal between legislatures necessary.