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Milestone US Election Gauges Voter Anger HL Turnout critical in determining if GOP will rout Democrats today

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VOTER turnout today will be critical in deciding whether Republicans force the biggest realignment in modern political history or merely make gains at the margins.

As people from Long Island to Los Angeles troop to the polls in the climactic day of election '94, at least 80 races for governor and Congress remain tossups.

``Get out the vote'' efforts will be particularly crucial in determining how many of those seats will bear Democratic labels.

Sensing the importance of the turnout, candidates from both parties are doing what they can to move their supporters from the couch to the polling booth. For instance:

* In Virginia's tart-tongued US Senate race, the campaign of GOP challenger Oliver North expects to call 200,000 voters in the stretch-drive of the campaign. Democratic incumbent Charles Robb hopes to match that effort, spending $600,000.

* In the deadlocked Senate contest in Pennsylvania, incumbent Harris Wofford (D) has recruited 10,000 volunteers to call Democratic and independent voters. Backers of Republican challenger US Rep. Rick Santorum have been phoning Republicans, independents, and swing Democrats in all of the state's 67 counties.

* In Houston, black Democratic leaders have 2,500 volunteers distributing information on where to vote in the city's black neighborhoods. One of their pitches: Support Gov. Anne Richards (D) in the Texas governor's race.

Still, Republicans aren't intimidated by such efforts.

``I think the Democratic vote is going to be very choppy,'' says Republican National Committee spokesman Chuck Greener. ``I think the real problem they have is there is no reason to come out and vote for a Democrat. They haven't run a campaign based on an idea. Instead, they've run a lot of local races based on personality.''

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