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In this election, swing voters make comeback

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Then there are the Republican districts that fell to Democrats, largely because of scandals, such as the seats once held by Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, and Rep. Mark Foley of Florida. Holding on to those seats in the next election will be an uphill battle for the Democrats who won them, but analysts do not rule out the possibility that they can perform well for their constituents and hang on.

One turnout question that can now be answered centers on white evangelicals and born-again Christians, who represent 24 percent of the electorate and form a critical part of the GOP base. Despite predictions that their turnout might be depressed on Tuesday, because of discouragement over scandals and a sense that not enough progress has been made on their social agenda, they turned out just as strongly as in 2004. Seventy percent voted Republican for the House versus 72 percent in 2004.

In other ways, though, America has shaken off its 50-50 moorings. "But there's no guarantee that [the Democrats] will do better than 50-50 two years from now," says Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. "It was an extraordinary election in which we had the most unpopular president at midterm since Truman, with an unpopular war and a public that is fed up. The voters had a unified Republican government for a target."

The only sign of anything permanent developing in the electorate as a whole, Mr. Jacobson says, is that throughout the six years of Mr. Bush's presidency, younger voters have been going disproportionately Democratic.

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