6:01 AM

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Traditionally, I’m up at the crack of dawn so I can be the first, or one of the first, in line to vote. This year is no exception. So, in a few minutes I’m off to grab an Egg McMuffin and a Coke, then I’ll hit the polls.

Here are a few stories to get you moving this morning…

Fight for Congress focuses on voter turnout…

Democrats took aim on Monday at ending Republican control of the U.S. Congress, as a bitter election fight fueled by discontent with President George W. Bush and the Iraq war ticked down to the last frantic hours.

Both parties fired up get-out-the-vote operations designed to bring core supporters to the polls on Tuesday, and sent out their biggest stars to appeal to swing voters who could tip the balance in close races around the country.

Bush, hampered by low approval ratings and confined to appearances in Republican areas to avoid alienating independents, was snubbed by the Republican candidate for governor in Florida who did not appear with the president at a Pensacola rally.

Opinion polls show Democrats could recapture House control for the first time since 1994, with Senate control hinging on several races that are too close to call. Republicans hoped their vaunted program to identify and turn out supporters would limit their losses.

Bush pointed to polls showing Republicans gaining ground in the campaign’s last days and said his message that Democrats would raise taxes and give up in Iraq was sinking in.

“I knew we were going to finish strong, because I knew that when the American people paid attention to the two most important issues they would understand we stand with them,” Bush said in Florida.

Two opinion polls on Monday showed Democrats still held a double-digit advantage when likely voters were asked which party’s candidate they would support. The new polls contradicted two surveys released on Sunday that showed Republicans closing the gap on Democrats.

A CNN poll gave Democrats an edge of 20 points, 58 percent to 38 percent. A new Fox News poll put the Democratic lead at 13 points. more

Larry Sabato at the University of VA’s Center for Politics predicts Democrats will take both the House and the Senate:

THE SENATE: +6 Dems = 51D, 49R

Despite hard-fought campaigning in every battleground state up until the very end, the overall Senate picture has not changed much since our Thursday assessment. The Crystal Ball still sees 4, 5 or 6 seats going to the Democrats, resting party control of the Senate squarely on the edge of the butter knife.

The Democrats must win all the close ones and capture all the toss-ups to gain control, which is very tough to do. The safe bet is that Democrats will gain no more than five seats, and thus the GOP will remain in charge by a fingernail of the upper chamber of Congress. But what the heck? We’ll live dangerously. We think the Democrats may replicate their feat from 1986 (the sixth year election of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency) and capture just enough seats to take over. This is our least confident prediction. We believe the Democrats have excellent chances to win the House and take a majority of the Governorships, while a thin Senate majority has odds no better than 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent.

Contests remain extremely close in the “Threshold Three”–Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia–with close races still possible in Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where Democrats hold narrow leads. Our outlooks have not changed, save to tilt Tennessee towards the Republicans. When we add together all our predictions, Democrats pick up six seats, sufficient to wrest control from the GOP.

THE HOUSE: +29 Dems = 232D, 203R

We admit: the Crystal Ball approaches the task of predicting the range of Democratic gains in the House with some anxiety. Politically, the House has always been the more volatile chamber of Congress this year; it has been the locus of far more scandal, and as always, there are more than ten times as many seats up for grabs in the House than there are in the Senate. In a “wave” election year, House races often surprise even the most astute observers by sneaking up into competition under the radar screen close to Election Day.

Even since we last published on Thursday, our list of late breaking races has grown much longer, and most of the shifts we have seen have favored the party out of power. Many of these contests emerged as horse races too late for the major parties to compete dollar-for-dollar in the districts at stake, and many are in such deeply red territory that they might not be good long-term investments for Democrats anyway. The Democratic thinking goes: “if we’re headed for a majority, why play in states like Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, or Wyoming only to lose the seats in a less favorable political environment two years later?” Still, we’ll bet outcomes in one or two of these places will surprise us. For Democrats, will these “late breakers” prove heartbreakers or supermajority-makers? It’s anyone’s guess, and we’ll only know after the polls close.

The Crystal Ball believes that Democrats will likely win more than enough races to take control (+25 to 33), and could see even larger gains if a large wave crashes even deeply red territory. By the same token, Democrats may end up leaving several of their 2nd or 3rd tier candidates stranded on 2nd or 3rd base with 47 or 48 percent of the vote on Election Night. We are betting that the toss-ups split evenly between the parties, 18 apiece. When we add up all of our predictions, Democrats gain 29 seats in the House to command the same size majority the GOP currently holds, 232-203. more

Here’s Bill Clinton from yesterday explaining how Republicans convince people to vote against Democrats:

“You have to vote for us (Republicans) because our opponents are no good…and because they will tax you into the poorhouse and on the way to the poorhouse you will meet a terrorist on every street corner and when you try to run away from the terrorists you will trip over an illegal alien”

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