No fewer than 65 House seats across the country — an overwhelming majority held by Democrats — are at risk of changing political hands this fall, enough to bolster Republican hopes of regaining power.
Even more races could become competitive as voters look to blame someone for the sluggish economy and take out their frustration on the Democrats who run the government. Already enough seats are in play that Republicans could gain the 39 they need to reclaim the House.
Primary outcomes and national polls show a restless electorate and energized Republicans. Independents who propelled the Democrats to power in 2006 and 2008 in scores of swing districts are leaning toward the GOP, expressing concerns about spending, government overreach and the national debt.
Every part of the country features close House contests and Democrats have reserved nearly $50 million in TV advertising time for the fall in 60 districts, mostly to protect seats held by their own members.
"Republicans are on offense and Democrats are running for cover," said House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other party leaders insist they will hold onto the House.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic House campaign effort, said his party is confident it will retain its majority. Still, he said keeping such a comfortable majority will be difficult.
The current breakdown is 255 Democrats, 178 Republicans and two vacancies. One of those is a Republican-held seat in Indiana; the other is a New York seat that likely will end up in GOP control.
"We've won 55 seats over the last two cycles, and we hold virtually every swing seat in the country. That's what makes it a very challenging cycle but that being said we will win the majority," said Van Hollen, D-Md.
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