The elections, for the two Houses of Congress and state governorships, had been widely seen as a referendum on Mr Clinton following his admission that he lied about an "inappropriate relationship" with the former White House trainee Monica Lewinsky.
A decisive factor in the Democrats' success was turn-out, which was unexpectedly high across the United States, but especially in places where close contests were anticipated. In South Carolina, polling stations were kept open late to accommodate the number of voters. Turn-out in mid-term elections has been as low as 35 per cent, but yesterday's turnout was set to reach the 60 per cent mark in several states, a level more reminiscent of presidential elections. A big turn-out was seen as favouring the Democrats, and the number of contests designated "too close to call" from exit polls increased as the evening progressed.
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