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Polls open in eastern US states for crucial mid-term elections

President Donald Trump’s Republicans are keenly aware that losing their majority will hamstring his political agenda over the next two years.

FILE: Voters cast their ballots for early Voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk, California on 5 November 2018. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - Polls opened on Tuesday across eastern US states as Americans began casting ballots in the critical mid-term elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump’s presidency, with control of Congress in the balance.

States including Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Virginia opened voting stations at 6.00am (11.00 GMT), with Trump’s Republicans keenly aware that losing their majority will hamstring his political agenda over the next two years.

At stake are all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate, 36 governors’ posts and seats in state legislatures across the country.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House has 435 members with states represented on the basis of population. There are currently 236 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and six vacancies.

All seats are contested every two years. The new congressional term begins in January 2019.

Republicans have controlled the House since the conservative Tea Party movement propelled the GOP to a wave election in November 2010.

The speaker of the House is Republican Paul Ryan, who is not seeking re-election from his home state of Wisconsin. Democrat and former speaker Nancy Pelosi serves as House minority leader.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control of the House.

Likely House outcome: Democrats take control.

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