The 2014 elections will provide a valuable snapshot of a changing nation. With a colorful and ambitious cast of candidates, they offer a wild ride of colliding ambitions -- with control of the national agenda on the line.
Throughout the year, ABC News' "14 for 14" project will document 14 races that matter between now and November. It will be a dynamic list of the campaigns -- limited to 14 at any given time -- that individually and collectively provide the big picture of where the country stands, and where we are headed.
All 435 House seats will be filled this year. So will 36 Senate slots, and 36 governors are scheduled to be elected, too. The 500-plus big nationally significant races are fascinating in their smallest details, for the personalities and issues that animate individual elections more than the ultimate scoreboard results.
Listed below are the slate of races chosen by the ABC News Political Unit to kick off the "14 for 14" project:
|Senate -- Kentucky |
Incumbent: Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell faces two huge tests: A tea party-backed primary challenger and, should he survive, an energized Democratic Party putting forward Alison Lundergan Grimes.
|Senate -- Arkansas |
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor
Vulnerable incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor takes on a well-funded GOP opponent with a central-casting resume, Rep. Tom Cotton, in a battle that could determine control of the Senate.
|Senate -- Georgia |
Open Seat: Replacing Retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss
A crowded Republican primary could produce a far-right nominee, leaving an opening for Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a former senator.
|Senate -- Louisiana|
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu
Sen. Mary Landrieu, a three-term Democrat, fights to hold on in the South in a must-win Senate contest for Democrats.
|Senate -- New Hampshire |
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
Sen. Scott Brown, the all-but-declared challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has turned a sleeper race into what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested battles in the country.
|Governor -- Florida |
Incumbent: Republican Gov. Rick Scott
Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist's political evolution has him trying to retake the governor's office from a tea party force, Gov. Rick Scott.
|Governor -- Texas |
Open Seat: Replacing Retiring Republican Gov. Rick Perry
An epic battle in the most populous red state pits new Democratic star Wendy Davis against well-regarded Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.
|Governor -- Wisconsin |
Incumbent: Republican Gov. Scott Walker
Gov. Scott Walker looks to burnish his national resume by winning the governorship for the third time inside of four years, but Democrats would love to scratch his name off the 2016 list.
|House -- Arizona's 2nd Congressional District |
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Ron Barber
A re-match is taking shape in Gabrielle Giffords' old district -- one of the most competitive anywhere -- between Rep. Rob Barber, a former Giffords aide injured in the shooting incident, and Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force fighter pilot.
|House -- Colorado's 6th Congressional District |
Incumbent: Republican Rep. Mike Coffman
A pure Western tossup, with liberal and conservative pockets of voters squaring off in a battle for who can turn out its side, in a state at the forefront of new social policies.
|House -- California's 7th Congressional District |
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera
A freshman Democrat who's a medical doctor seeks to hang on in a hyper-competitive central California district, as Obamacare goes into effect nationwide.
|House -- Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District |
Open Seat: Rep. Allyson Schwartz Running For Governor
Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, looks to return to Congress, if she can emerge from inside an ambitious Democratic primary field.
|House -- New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District |
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
A seat that changed party hands in the waves of 2006, 2010, and 2012 is a test for both parties -- and a possible rare third straight matchup between the same candidates.
|Land Commissioner -- Texas |
The Bush dynasty extends to a new generation, with George P. Bush -- the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush -- seeking his first political office, with his Hispanic heritage a potential asset in changing Texas.