Nov. 6: The sound of mortar shells slamming into Baghdad grew muted this evening but, in America, Republicans and Democrats cranked up their machinery for what is being billed a referendum on George W. Bush’s Iraq war.
The US House of Representatives, some Senate seats and 36 states go to polls tomorrow, overshadowed by the death sentence pronounced on Saddam Hussein on Sunday.
Violence did break out in some areas of Iraq but not on the scale Saddam had predicted — “there will be rivers of blood for years to come” — at least not on the day that followed the verdict.
In America, on the eve of the mid-term elections, Republicans and Democrats hammered each other over Iraq’s future.
Sleaze as well as sex — the customary ingredients of any US poll — and local issues were in evidence this time, too, but Iraq dominated the campaign season, capped by Saddam’s death sentence.
Candidates were grappling with another challenge: how to get Americans — notorious for indifference to elections —to the polling booths.
New opinion polls showed Republicans gaining ground in some key races, but Democrats were still positioned to make gains in the Senate and recapture control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994.
Polling will close at 4.30 am (IST) on Wednesday but it could be hours before the results of many crucial seats are out.
The Republicans, President Bush’s group that now controls both the House and the Senate, have been playing on fears of a humiliating retreat from Iraq if the Democrats win.
Victory for Democrats will have implications for India, too, as the nuclear deal could then be in trouble.