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, it’s 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 party’s leadership, faces Republican Jackie Walorski. Ellsworth’s 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 Virginia’s battleground 1st district as well as South Carolina’s 5th district race, where Rep. John Spratt (D), one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top lieutenants on Capitol Hill, is poised to fall.
Republicans are on track to make some big gains in Florida, where national Democrats have all but ceded Rep. Alan Grayson’s 8th district and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’s 24th district. More worrisome for Democrats would be losses by Florida Reps. Allen Boyd and Ron Klein. Meanwhile, if Democrats can steal one of two open-seat contests in the Sunshine State, they could go a long way toward beating back a GOP tsunami.
Virginia also presents a good early indicator with four House races in play. A loss by Rep. Tom Perriello would be particularly notable given how much the White House has invested in the freshman Democrat who stood by the president despite being from a conservative district. The defeat of either Democratic Reps. Rick Boucher or Gerry Connolly would also indicate Democrats could lose the House in short order.
<b>Anna Palmer and Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.</b>
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