Handful of House Races to Decide Power

A handful of competitive races will decide who controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

As they are every two years, 435 House seats are up for grabs, although only 57 are considered competitive.

Democrats currently hold four of the 57, putting the GOP on defense.

The Democrats need to pick up 15 seats to gain control of the House.

Chances for Democratic control seem more likely in the House than in the Senate. Early in this campaign season, the Democrats expanded their playing field by taking advantage of the president's tumultuous political year, recruiting strong candidates and raising early money.

"One of the reasons is these candidates had an opportunity to put their organizations together, build on the ground, and define themselves before negative campaigns defined them for them," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr., D-Md., during a recent news conference on the midterms.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $108 million for the election cycle; the National Republican Congressional Committee $152 million.

At the same event, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York said, ultimately, each race boiled down to one thing: the candidates.

"Although House races are debated on cable news by national pundits," Reynolds said, "we are dealing with fierce contests fought by local personalities on local pocketbook issues."

This campaign season thrived on the localization of national issues, a strategy the Democrats used to their advantage to thrust certain races, however local, into the national spotlight.

The war in Iraq has been a defining issue in this election, driving vote preferences.

In preliminary exit poll results, nearly six in 10 voters disapprove of the war, while about four in 10 approve.

Approval of the war was higher, 51 percent, in the 2004 election. And about four in 10 now "strongly" disapprove of the war, up from 32 percent two years ago.

Related to concerns about the war in Iraq, voters are more apt today to say the country's seriously off on the wrong track than to say it's going in the right direction.

The last time this view was more negative than positive was in 1994, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.


National Democrats were keeping a careful watch on Indiana's 7th Congressional District to ensure voting problems in African-American neighborhoods wouldn't endanger incumbent Rep. Julia Carson, D-Ind., against opponent Republican Eric Dickerson.

Carson told ABC News' Julia Bain that earlier problems had been corrected, for the most part. Carson's campaign said that most of the problems with optical-scan machines in the 7th District had been addressed this morning.


No House race has received as much national attention as the fight for Illinois' 6th Congressional District.

One of four Democratic Iraq War veterans running for the House, Tammy Duckworth, an Army pilot who lost both legs in a 2004 attack, faces Republican State Sen. Peter Roskam in a right-leaning district represented for the last three decades by retiring Republican Rep. Henry Hyde.

Roskam holds a clear funding advantage over Duckworth and has focused his campaign on immigration and taxation.

Duckworth has attacked Roskam for insider status in Washington, most notably his association with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who resigned amid scandal earlier this year.


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