House Election Shockers: Red New England, Blue Kansas
In an election replete with uncertainties, how about the oft-ignored races for the U.S. House of Representatives? Here is a possibility: Republicans score big in New England and Democrats pull upsets in Kansas.
The odds are against either happening, but in this crazy-quilt environment -- voters don't like President Barack Obama or Republicans -- a few surprises are likely Tuesday night. There's a consensus that Republicans will add in the neighborhood of 10 seats to their 234-201 majority in the House.
There is less clarity in individual races. Democrats and outside groups supporting them are spending money in Arkansas and Nebraska, Republican strongholds. Conversely, Republicans are pouring money into Illinois and Hawaii, where Democrats traditionally dominate.
Democrats say that a good night in California, with a handful of competitive contests, would minimize their losses, while Republicans say taking over several seats in New York likely would maximize their gains.
One Republican strategist, confident about next Tuesday, says he has an occasional nightmare about what might go wrong in reliably red Kansas, where incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts are locked in tough races. If there is an anti-incumbent tide in Kansas -- which he doubts -- a couple of supposedly safe House members could be in jeopardy.
Then there's New England. All 21 House members from the region currently are Democrats. Republicans are making a run in one open seat in Maine, both New Hampshire districts, and two in Massachusetts: it's distinctly possible they will win a majority of these. Democrats say no more than one or two.
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