Energized electorate heads to polls for midterms

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Millions of Americans will head to the polls today to vote in one of the most hotly contested midterm elections in recent history.

At stake are all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 37 seats in the U.S. Senate, governorships in 37 states and two territories and thousands of positions held by local and state officials.

Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats in the House to reach the 218-seat majority needed to control the legislative body. Most experts agree that the GOP will win control of the chamber.

Republicans also are expected to gain seats in the Senate, but probably will not gain the 10 seats needed to take control.

Polls show Republicans more energized than Democrats, which suggests a higher turnout of GOP voters, CNN reports. With so much frustration focused on Washington, incumbents began to fall in the primaries and that wave is expected to continue.

The Washington Post reports that a record number of absentee ballots have already been cast. The total number of early votes has topped 16 million, according to one preliminary analysis, and is on track to be slightly shy of the historic number of early ballots cast in the 2008 presidential election.

"It's going to easily beat any midterm we've had," Michael McDonald, a George Mason University government professor who has tracked early voting for several election cycles, told the newspaper.

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