House elections have resulted in partisan surges over the past 10 years. Democrats united against President Bush in 2006 and Republicans swamped Democrats over deficit spending and health care reform in 2010.
However major polls do not indicate a strong partisan swing this year. More likely, skirmishes will result in a subtle shift, perhaps in the direction of the Republicans, according to the Times
In New York, Dan Maffei, a Democrat, hopes to grab a seat he lost two years ago, while Representative Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who won in a special election last year, is trying desperately to hang on.
In Illinois, Democrats are trying to unseat several Republicans, from freshman Bobby Schilling to the long-serving Judy Biggert, by using their redistricting advantage.
Meanwhile, Republicans are countering with the same strategy in North Carolina, where moderate Democrats like Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre are against the ropes.
Overall, Republicans seem poised to maintain control of the House and might even pick up a few seats. More Democrats than Republicans have retired in districts where they were endangered, and more Republicans benefited from redistricting, leaving the Democrats with little cushion for incumbents.
For perspective, of the 80 races viewed as most competitive by The New York Times, based on polls and interviews with independent analysts, 32 are leaning Republican, 23 are leaning Democratic and 25 are tossups.
“There is no doubt that voters believe Washington is broken,” said David Wasserman, the House editor of The Cook Political Report. “But most believe it is broken because the other side broke it.”
Referring to Speaker John A. Boehner, the top Republican, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, he added: “Voters in Boehner’s district believe they are sending Boehner there to fight Obama, and Pelosi’s district believes she is there to fight theTea Party. It is a retrenchment, not a referendum.”
“A lot had to go right for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker again, and a lot has gone wrong” for her to retrieve the gavel, said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Naturally, Democrats disagree. They are focused on targeting the most conservative Republicans to gain the 25 seats required to take back Congress.
The party has “a gentle breeze behind our backs,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Whether it is strong enough to take us to the majority remains to be seen, but election night will be a good night for Democrats,” Mr. Israel said.