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Republicans May Increase U.S. House Lead in Undecided Races

Republicans may increase their control of the U.S. House that will be installed in January by picking up seats among nine Democratic-held districts where the outcome remains in doubt.

Just hundreds of votes separate the candidates in some of the undecided races, according to the Associated Press. Also, the re-election of Representative Tim Bishop, a four-term Democrat from New York’s Long Island, was thrown into doubt after a fresh count of ballots, according to Republican challenger Randy Altschuler.

Republicans gained at least 60 seats in the House in the Nov. 2 election, the biggest swing in the party’s favor since 1938.

“It’s expected that Republicans will hold on and pick up a total of 63 or 64 seats, though recounts can occasionally produce a surprise,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Republicans also picked up six seats in the Senate, trimming the Democrats’ control to 53-47.

Democratic incumbents suffered from voter concerns about the growth of the federal government and an economy that has yet to recover fully from the recession that began under President George W. Bush, a Republican.

Cutting Spending

Republicans including Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the party’s second highest leader in the House, have said the election results signify support for cutting government spending and rolling back the health-care overhaul signed by Democratic President Barack Obama.

Additional gains for Republicans in some of the undecided contests are to be expected, said Jennifer Duffy, political analyst at the Cook Political Report, a Washington-based publication that tracks political races.

“Given how historic Democrats’ losses in the House were last week, nothing about this list is surprising,” she said in an e-mail.

In California, Representative Jerry McNerney, a Democrat elected four years ago when his party won control of the House and Senate, leads by 421 votes, or 0.2 percent, according to preliminary tallies released by the California Secretary of State.

Democratic incumbent Jim Costa, who represents part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, is trailing challenger Andy Vidak by less than two percentage points, according to the AP.

There are similar close races in Illinois, Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Washington and New York, the AP reported.

New York Race

New York Representative Daniel Maffei, whose district includes Syracuse, is lagging behind Republican challenger Anne Marie Buerkle in another tight race.

In New York’s Suffolk County, where Democrat Bishop initially led by 3,400 votes, Altschuler had a 392-vote lead after election officials took a closer look at the results, the Republican said on his Facebook page. Altschuler also said that more than 9,000 absentee and military ballots have yet to be counted.

“Our effort will not conclude until each and every vote is counted,” he wrote.

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