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House and Senate Races To Watch

Need more horse race? Take comfort that 101 ballot fights besides the presidency pin the nation’s legislative branch in uncertainty.

Newshour Political Editor Christina Bellantoni and Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg political report will be glued to the returns from 7 p.m. onward Tuesday on PBS stations and online, when a number of House and Senate races will see conclusions. Check back to this post throughout the night for updates on who has lost and won and what they have to say.

Rothenberg has his take on 68 House of Representative seats in play — and there’s likely not going to be a change in the House’s Republican majority. But in the Senate, where three seats held by Democrats are pure toss-ups, it’s another story. Rothenberg rates another five Senate seats as toss-ups tilting to the left or right, and overall, the Republican will need to flip four seats in their favor to take control.

Throughout this election cycle, the NewsHour has highlighted the most compelling close matchups from a handful of states. Many are part of our Battleground Dispatches series.


Missouri: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) vs. Rep. Todd Akin (R)

Call it the race that should have been. McCaskill started the race as a vulnerable incumbent who had aligned herself with President Obama in a right-leaning state. Akin pulled ahead after a surprise push to win his party’s primary. A mid-season statement asserting false science regarding women who are raped pushed him to the party’s pariah status. But he didn’t back down. Both candidates have stayed on the campaign trail in the final days.

Gwen Ifill visited the state in early October. Watch her report here or below.

Arizona: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) vs. Richard Carmona (D)

Arizona’s race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl will test the sway of the Hispanic voting bloc and the power of political ads. Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, appeals to Arizona’s voters because of his Hispanic heritage and moderate past. But Flake’s been a well-known conservative leader for six terms.

Flake’s resume opens him to attacks and Carmona has his bio. Both have been the subject of some of the nastiest political advertising in the country.

The NewsHour traveled to Arizona in October to frame the state of the race. Watch that here or below.

Massachusetts: Sen. Scott Brown (R) vs. Elizabeth Warren (D)

Brown became one of the freshest faces of recent Republican movements when he won former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat in a 2010 special election. Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, has had her share of headlining moments, including introducing former President Bill Clinton as the keynote at this year’s Democratic National Convention. The race has captured national attention, as Warren fights to hold onto working class voters, and Brown has been touting his bipartisanship to hold onto his traditionally liberal state.

Gwen went to Boston to check in on the race. Watch her report here or below.

Montana: Sen. Jon Tester (D) vs. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R)


Tester’s 2006 victory swept the Democrats to Senate control in one of the closest races in the nation. But Rehberg, his opponent, has hoped to push Tester away from a reputation as an independently minded Democrat in a Republican state. Tester’s latest hope has come from ads urging voters to choose a libertarian candidate over the Republican Rehberg.

Watch a segment on Native American voters’ impact in this race here or below.


Nevada’s 4th congressional district

Steven Horsford, the Democratic state senator majority leader, and Danny Tarkanian, kin of a beloved University of Nevada – Las Vegas basketball coach, both vie for Nevada’s new, diverse district created due to population growth through reapportionment after the 2010 census. Tarkanian may have built a lead with an injection of advertising money.

Watch the segment by Mitch Fox of Vegas PBS here or below.

Florida’s 18th congressional district

Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West has favored vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan’s congressional budget proposal and the partial privatization of Medicare. And he’s used the issue to hit back at his opponent, first-time congressional candidate Patrick Murphy, a Democrat. He hopes to hold onto a position in Florida in a close race for a new district. For the NewsHour, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich covered how Medicare and the Ryan budget factor into races like this one.

Watch Todd’s report here and below.

New Hampshire’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts

The Granite State this year is all about girl power. The swing state with four electoral votes has two female Democrats running for seats in Congress, and they’ve drawn attention as potential history-makers. Republican Rep. Charlie Bass hopes to hold onto his seat in the 2nd district, but Ann McLane Kuster’s message and appeal to female voters has made this contest close. Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter also hopes to regain the seat she lost to Republican Rep. Frank Guinta in the Republican takeover in 2010.

A governor’s seat is also up for grabs between Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne. Should Hassan win, she’d be the only female Democratic governor in the nation.

The all-women sweep in the two congressional races and governors’ race would add to the state’s all-female Senate delegation, of Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Kelly Ayotte.

WNYC Radio’s Anna Sale has more on the story here and below.

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