Aug. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

New England

Connecticut

House

2nd district
Incumbent: Joe Courtney (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

It appears that Republicans have all but given up on taking this seat back. Their early recruit, Navy officer Sean Sullivan (R), only had a skeletal amount in his bank account at the end of July: $155,000. Courtney, on the other hand, had a cool $1.4 million in cash on hand.

In the next month, don’t expect to hear much from this race. Once a competitive district, it now appears safe for Courtney for the foreseeable future.

4th district
Incumbent: Christopher Shays (R)
11th term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Republicans think Shays has found a winning recipe for holding onto his seat. Despite facing top Democratic challengers cycle after cycle, Shays has held on to his suburban district by more than a few thousand votes.

Democrats recruited Greenwich Town Committeeman Jim Himes early on to challenge Shays. Although he does not have the regional following that 2004 and 2006 nominee Diane Farrell had, Democrats hope Himes’ candidate profile might play better in the district. While Farrell emphasized her time as a Westport selectwoman, Himes’ background in the finance sector and his work on urban housing issues could play better with voters in an election cycle that has so far has benefited outsider candidates.

To win this cycle with Himes, Democrats will have to figure out a way to unlock Bridgeport — the largest city in the district — to increase urban voter turnout. Democrats hope having a black presidential nominee on the top of the ticket will help Himes in this area, but it’s hard to be optimistic about a city whose lower-than- expected turnout has cost the party this seat time and time again.

5th district
Incumbent: Christopher Murphy (D)
1st term (56 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Republicans keep touting state Sen. David Cappiello as a promising candidate for the seat, but it’s nonetheless been difficult for him to get much traction in the district.

Cappiello got his fundraising in gear, bringing in big names to raise money for him in the district and having a cool $711,000 in the bank at the end of July. Even stories tying Cappiello to a corrupt garbage company — arguably the thing most hampering his candidacy — have disappeared from the local newspapers.

Cappiello’s politically moderate profile makes him exactly the kind of Republican candidate who could win the district: He supports abortion rights, boasts a fiscally conservative record in the state Senate and, according to his first television ads, even has a bipartisan marriage. But former Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) had a similar record — and 12 terms in the House behind her — and her race with Murphy in the previous cycle ultimately wasn’t even close.

Watch Cappiello try to spend his money on television advertisements in the next few weeks with the hope of increasing his name identification with voters. But he likely will be unable to match the millions of dollars that Murphy can put into the race and onto the airwaves. What’s more, this district may have become too Democratic in recent cycles for any Republican to win — or hold on to.

Maine

Senate

Incumbent: Susan Collins (R)
2nd term (58 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Democrats could not have found a better candidate to challenge Collins this cycle, but Rep. Tom Allen (D) nonetheless continues to trail her in the polls, often by double digits. While Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) dominates his GOP counterpart Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the polls in the state, Allen can’t seem to get much traction at all.

The consensus among both local and national Democrats was that Allen’s standing in the polls would improve once he went up on television. But since he hit the airwaves in early September, there has only been the slightest movement in the race.

It may just be that the Collins brand is very strong — perhaps unstoppable — in the state. While some of her Senate counterparts fight for their electoral lives in what should be safe GOP states across the country, Collins is on target to win re-election by a healthy margin in a state that should be a better bet for Democrats.

House

1st district
Open seat: Tom Allen (D) is running for Senate
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree (D) proved she deserved the frontrunner status in this race all along when she resoundingly topped a crowded field to win the June primary. Since that win, Pingree’s campaign has kept its head to the ground and out of the headlines.

Republicans have nominated Iraq War veteran Charlie Summers for a second time in this district. Summers, who also won a contested June primary, made his first go at the seat in 2004.

It’s likely this race will stay under the radar until Election Day, mostly because the Democratic-leaning district will likely elect Pingree. While Summers is a promising candidate who will likely be buoyed by Sen. Susan Collins’ (R) expected statewide win, it’s unlikely that he can find the traction or the funds to give Pingree a run for her money by November.

Massachusetts

Senate

Incumbent: John Kerry (D)
4th term (80 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

It’s almost a wonder what Kerry is saving that $7.5 million war chest for these days. He easily defeated his token Democratic primary opposition — a mostly self-funded anti-war candidate whom Kerry debated just once.

Republican hopes were deflated when their chosen contender, former 5th district candidate and hay farmer Jim Ogonowski, failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. Instead, the GOP nominated security adviser Jeff Beatty to take on the former Democratic White House nominee.

It’s hard to imagine what Kerry could do in the next month to lose the election, especially with opposition that only boasts token support from the national party.

House

1st district
Incumbent: John Olver (D)
9th term (76 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Only four of the state’s 10 House Members — and all 10 are Democrats — have challengers this fall. Of the four, Olver’s opponent, Navy veteran Nate Bech (R), is running the most aggressive campaign. But he still doesn’t have a prayer.

New Hampshire

Senate

Incumbent: John Sununu (R)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Republicans have been saying for months that the polls, which often showed former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) up by double digits, would tighten by the fall. Entering into the final stretch before Election Day, the polls have closed significantly in this rematch between the two Granite State titans.

However, most political observers in the state would agree that Shaheen still has the edge, and the most recent polling has shown her a few points ahead of Sununu. Insiders say it’s still the former governor’s race to lose.

Nonetheless, Sununu has plenty of money to spend in these last few weeks. While the Senator ran a frugal campaign throughout 2007 and early 2008, Shaheen was already spending money on television ads. In short, he’s got more money to spend on television this fall than she does.

This race will likely continue to tighten as voters hit the polls. If GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) continues to perform well in the state — and polls have shown him in a competitive race — then Sununu might just pull off a second win against Shaheen. Still, most analysts believe the recent Democratic trends in the state give Shaheen the advantage.

House

1st district
Incumbent: Carol Shea-Porter (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

One of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, Shea-Porter’s re-election might be more difficult than her first race. Public polls have shown her trailing the man she ousted two years ago, former Rep. Jeb Bradley (R).

But Shea-Porter has more than a few things going for her in the GOP-leaning district: Bradley, whom she already defeated one time, emerged from a late and divisive primary and has the low approval rating to prove it. And this cycle, Shea-Porter appears to be welcoming the national party’s much-needed resources to help her campaign.

Shea-Porter’s biggest problem, according to local analysts, will be holding on to her conservative-leaning seat with a competitive presidential race on the ballot. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) consistently edges Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in polls in the 1st district, which is known to be the more conservative of the state’s two seats. Then again, Shea-Porter lagged behind Bradley for months in the 2006 polls before she surprised the political establishment with her upset win.

More recently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made it clear that it is willing to spend the cash to keep the seat, dropping more than a half a million dollars in expenditures in recent weeks. The committee has already run one negative ad critical of Bradley’s record in Washington, D.C. — and it probably won’t be the last spot from the DCCC this cycle tying the former Congressman to President Bush.

2nd district
Incumbent: Paul Hodes (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Expect a very negative general election battle between Hodes, whom Republicans have tried to brand as a Washington, D.C., liberal, and radio host Jennifer Horn (R). The late four-way GOP primary was already a bloody competition of who could be the most negative toward Hodes. And as a result, his approval rating suffered in public polling.

Nonetheless, Democrats aren’t concerned about Hodes’ re-election and do not expect to put much national money into the race unless things change significantly. But at least they would have the money to support him if the race became more competitive. The cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committee might not have the means to aid Horn, whose campaign fundraising was anemic in the primary.

What’s more, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is polling well in the 2nd district, further aiding Hodes’ re-election campaign. Although he may not be the safest freshman Democrat of the cycle, Hodes will likely keep his seat for the next Congress.

Rhode Island

Senate

Incumbent: Jack Reed (D)
2nd term (78 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Reed can look forward to a low-key couple of weeks before Election Day. He already defeated his opponent, Bob Tingle (R), by a hefty margin in 2002.

House

2nd district
Incumbent: James Langevin (D)
4th term (73 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

A target for a primary challenge in 2006, Langevin will be re-elected easily this year. His only challenge is from a token Republican candidate, Mark Zaccaria, who previously ran for a handful of local committees and zoning boards.

Vermont

House

At-large
Incumbent: Peter Welch (D)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

It doesn’t get any easier than this for a freshman in Congress. Welch faces — wait for it — himself for re-election. Well, not exactly. But he managed to pick up the GOP nomination in September when a majority of Republicans wrote in his name on the primary ballot.

That means that this November, it’s Welch (D) vs. Welch (R) on the ballot. Our money is on the former to win re-election.

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