In Kentucky, Democratic incumbents were holding the line with Rep. Ben Chandler showing a 5-point lead in the 6th district. Meanwhile, in the Louisville-based 3rd district, Rep. John Yarmuth (D) beat back his tea-party-backed challenger with relative ease. A good sign for Democrats on a night where they will be looking for any good news to boost their morale.
Among the states where polls closed at 7 p.m., early results showed Republicans on track to pick up Floridaís 8th district held by Rep. Alan Grayson (D), while Virginia Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher both looked to be in close contests.
Among the races to watch in states where polls closed at 8 p.m. are several involving veteran Democrats who found themselves the surprise target of Republican efforts this cycle. They include Reps. John Dingell (Mich.), Barney Frank (Mass.), Gene Taylor (Miss.), Ike Skelton (Mo.) and Paul Kanjorski (Pa.).
The biggest battlegrounds this hour include several Southern Blue Dog Democrats, including Reps. Travis Childers (Miss.) and Bobby Bright (Miss.). Both boast some of the most conservative voting records in the Democratic Caucus, but either or both could fall in a Republican wave.
Along with Kanjorski, a half-dozen other Democratic seats are being closely watched in Pennsylvania. Democratic Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Patrick Murphy look particularly vulnerable. The safest is probably Rep. Jason Altmire (D), so if his 4th district starts to get tight, itís probably a sign that things are going south quickly for Democrats.
The road to a Republican takeover of the House on Tuesday night begins in Indiana with a trio of races that are being closely watched to see how strong the expected Republican wave will be.
Republicans have targeted Democratic Reps. Baron Hill and Joe Donnelly, as well as the seat that Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) left open to run for the Senate.
Early returns showed Republicans with leads against Hill and Donnelly. Donnelly, who ran ads against his partyís leadership, faces Republican Jackie Walorski. Ellsworthís open 8th district seat has long been expected to be a GOP pickup, and Republican Larry Bucshon appeared on track to make that happen, running 8 points ahead of Democrat Trent Van Haaften with just more than 10 percent reporting.
Polls have also closed in eastern Kentucky, where national Republicans have invested more than half a million dollars trying to knock off Rep. Ben Chandler. Chandler was expected to have a slight edge in the race so a loss in his Lexington-based 6th district could signal a long night for Democrats. Early returns showed Chandler running about 10 points ahead of Republican Andy Barr.
In the next hour polls will close in nine states that feature more than two dozen closely watched House races. They include the open-seat contest in West Virginiaís battleground 1st district as well as South Carolinaís 5th district race, where Rep. John Spratt (D), one of Speaker Nancy Pelosiís top lieutenants on Capitol Hill, is poised to fall.