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Bush Holds Lead, Republicans Increase Control Of Congress --> 3 November 2004 -- The latest projections show incumbent George W. Bush in the lead over his main challenger, Senator John Kerry, in the race for the U.S. presidency.

Projections by U.S. television networks, citing exit polls and partial results of yesterday's election, show Bush winning the key state of Florida and its 27 electoral votes. Bush is now projected as winning at least 28 states, for at least 254 electoral votes.

Attention now turns to the state of Ohio, where a Bush victory would move him to the brink of winning the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

The network projections show Kerry winning at least 19 states and the District of Columbia. Kerry is now projected as having 252 electoral votes.

A win in Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes, would put either candidate on the brink of winning the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. According to preliminary results, Bush appears to be leading in Ohio by some 145,000 votes. Nationwide, he is leading in the popular vote 51 percent to 48 percent.

Kerry's vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards, said today the Democrats will not concede defeat until the vote count is final. "John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted."

Ohio election officials say it will take 11 days for a final result to be declared in the state.

Meanwhile, projected results of the U.S. elections show that Bush's Republican Party has retained control of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. television networks, citing partial returns, show the Republicans will hold at least 53 of the Senate's 100 seats, two more than they currently control. Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader in the Senate, was defeated by his Republican rival in the state of South Dakota. It is the first time in a half-century a Senate leader has been voted out of office. Early projections also suggest the Republicans will retain control of the 435-member House of Representatives.

For the Democratic Party, Barack Obama of the state of Illinois has captured a Senate seat that was formerly in Republican hands. Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, will become the only black person in the new Senate and only the third black to hold a Senate seat in U.S. history.

Obama spoke to reporters after his victory: "[Some people] felt that in a nation as divided as ours, there was no possibility that someone who looked like me could ever aspire to the United States Senate. They felt that, in a fearful nation, someone named Barack Obama could never hope to win an election. And yet, here we stand because we had a different concept, a different notion of the American people."