US polls: Control of US Congress likely to remain same

US presidential elections

Americans deeply dislike Congress, but they are unlikely to change its makeup in Tuesday's election, which is expected to leave Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats keeping their majority in the Senate.

More than $2 billion has been spent on a barrage of negative ads in the fight for Congress, where the entire 435-seat House and 33 of the 100 Senate seats are at stake. No matter who wins the razor-thin race for the White House _ President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney _ the next chief executive will likely face a divided Congress that shows no inclination to end its dysfunction and bridge its ideological chasm. That will make passing any major pieces of legislation difficult. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican House Speaker John Boehner are likely to retain their posts.

Congress consistently rates low in public opinion surveys, but incumbents still tend to get re-elected. That's because voters tend to favor their own lawmakers even if they dislike Congress overall. Incumbents also enjoy huge financial advantages in their re-election bids. And, in the House, another boost for many incumbents is the once-a-decade redrawing of district boundaries, which has just been completed.

Republicans had hoped to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats, who were defending 23 seats and losing several retiring veterans. But the Republicans' quest was marred by the explosive comments their candidates in Indiana and Missouri made about abortion, rape and pregnancy. Solid candidates also boosted the prospects of the Democrats, who are poised to retain their 53-47 advantage or in their best-case scenario even increase it by one. Still, Senate Democrats would remain nowhere near the 60-vote supermajority needed to easily pass legislation under Senate rules.

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said he worries that with a divided Congress "we can probably expect hyper partisanship and gridlock everywhere. It seems like Americans can expect more of the same.''

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