'World News' Political Insights -- Coast-to-Coast Strategy Positions GOP for Takeover

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Add in a crop of incumbents like conservative Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and 14-term Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and long-time blue spots in red states could wind up all-but erased.

That brings us to the old, as in the old guard of Democrats. These races won't win Republicans the majority so much as they'd fatten it; they wouldn't be the storyline, but they might provide the punctuation marks.

Long-serving Democrats, many of them liberal icons and powerful committee chairmen, are in some of their toughest fights in decades.

Seventeen-term Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is among the endangered. So is House Budget Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., a member of Congress for 28 years, and House Transportation Chairman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., who's served almost 36 years in the House.

Republicans like their chances against 10-term Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who counts President Bush among his constituents, plus House Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, D-Va., first elected in 1976.

The GOP is fielding a spirited challenger to House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., one of the nation's most prominent liberals -- and whose congressional district supported Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., earlier this year.

Even Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., first sworn in by House Speaker Sam Rayburn and now the longest-serving House member in history, is in a dogfight.

Ultimately, many or most of the veterans could pull off victories. They have survived wave elections in the past, or they wouldn't be where they are now.

But a few wins over big-name Democrats won't just add to GOP numbers -- they'll come to define a brutal election cycle for incumbents across the board.

Meanwhile, in the Senate races, look for the tone of the night to be set early. If Democrats hold on to the Connecticut seat, as expected, a win by Gov. Joe Manchin in the West Virginia race would mean Republicans would have to run the table in every other competitive race to have a shot at control of the Senate.

That includes, of course, Nevada, which is shaping up as the marquee contest of the 2010 cycle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is the No. 1 target of Republicans and tea party activists, and national tea party energy and money has flowed to Republican Sharron Angle.

Nevada will tell much of the story about what the future of the tea party movement holds -- or could be held up by Democrats as evidence that tea party enthusiasm has real limits in general elections.

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