Hot races, big stakes on midterm election ballot

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Hot races, big stakes on midterm election ballot
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. talks to supporters during a campaign stop, at the cafe inside Gibson's Bookstore, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 in Concord, N.H. The incumbent U.S. Senator is seeking re-election against former Massachusetts Sen. Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown shakes hands during a campaign stop at MacKenna's Restaurant, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 in New London, N.H. Brown is trying to unseat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., greets supporters on his final campaign stop at the Warren County Regional Airport in Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, would ascend to majority leader if he holds his seat and Republicans take control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Kentucky democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes addresses a group of supporters during a rally in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. pours a glass of water while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, before the Senate subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing to examine the safety and security of drinking water supplies following the Central West Virginia drinking water crisis. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Republican Senate candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst greets a supporter during a campaign stop Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Ankeny, Iowa. Ernst is running against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Ottumwa, Iowa. Braley is running against Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst for the U.S. Senate seat of Tom Harkin, who is not seeking reelection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Georgia U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, right, greets supporters at a campaign field office, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate David Perdue speaks to sup[porters at a rally at Dekalb Peachtree Airport Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts talks to supporters at the Johnson County Republican headquarters Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Overland Park, Kan. Incumbent Roberts is locked in a tough contest with independent candidate Greg Orman in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Independent senate candidate Greg Orman talks to supporters during a campaign event Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Orman is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in the Nov. 4, midterm elections. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker prepare for a televised debate against Democratic challenger Mary Burke (not pictured) Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the WMVS-TV studio in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Benny Sieu)
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2014 file photo, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke waves to a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop in the Wisconsin Governor, in Milwaukee. President Barack Obama is making a rare appearance on the campaign trail to help the Democratic challenger to Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin's hotly contested race. Obama was scheduled to campaign Tuesday evening with Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycles executive and state commerce secretary who is running close against Walker. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn, File)
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Above all else, what's at stake in Tuesday's midterm elections is control of the U.S. Senate.

That, in turn, will shape the fate of President Barack Obama's agenda for the rest of his term. And everything else that Congress wants to do, or stop from getting done.

Republicans need to gain six seats to win back the Senate majority they lost in 2006. Their odds are good, but it's not a slam dunk.

Polls and pundits alike see about 10 Democratic seats that could switch to the GOP. Democrats could flip a GOP seat, too, or perhaps as many as three if they have what passes for a good night.

Voters will also pick a new House of Representatives, choose governors in three dozen states and decide more than 100 ballot measures.

A rundown of what's at stake on Election Day:

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SENATE SCORECARD

Democrats enter the night with a 53-45 Senate majority, and they usually have the support of two independents.

On Tuesday, 36 seats are being contested. Senators serve six-year terms, meaning those elected Tuesday will serve through the next president's first term.

Where will change come?

The GOP's chances are strong of replacing retiring Democratic senators in West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Iowa is another possibility, too.

Republican are looking to flip seats in Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, New Hampshire, Alaska and Louisiana. There could be GOP losses in Georgia, Kentucky and Kansas.

Republicans aren't expected to win them all, but they don't need them all, either, to make Kentucky's Mitch McConnell the next Senate majority leader - as long as he wins re-election.

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IN THE PEOPLE'S HOUSE

Republicans now hold a 234-201 majority in the House. Every election puts all 435 House seats in play. No one doubts the GOP will keep control of that chamber; the question is how many seats they'll gain.

Some two dozen Democrats, along with four Republicans, are seen as vulnerable. If Republicans defeat the most endangered Democratic incumbents and win open seats in North Carolina, Utah and New York, they might end the night with as many as 246 seats, the most for the party since World War II.

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AT THE STATEHOUSE

The GOP is defending 22 governor's seats, Democrats 14.

Many of the nation's incumbent state CEOs are vulnerable, more so than usual. A half-dozen Republican governors who swept into office, some with tea party support, in 2010 are struggling to hang onto office.

They include GOP Gov. Sam Brownback in solidly Republican Kansas and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is on the ballot for the third time in four years.

Brownback achieved the conservative dream in his first term - big tax and spending cuts. But the effect on the state's budget led many Republicans there to defect, and they support the challenge of Democrat Paul Davis, the state House minority leader.

Walker's chances as a candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination rest on whether he survives a challenge Tuesday from Democrat Mary Burke. Democrats and their labor allies salivate at the prospect of defeating the governor who effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers in the state after his election in 2010, then survived a recall election.

Several Democrats entered the day struggling to win election, too, most notably in reliably blue New England.

Topping that list is Martha Coakley, who ought to be a shoo-in as a Democrat in Massachusetts. But the state's attorney general, who also lost a bid for Senate in 2010, could fall to Republican Charlie Baker.

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AIR POLLUTION?

This was the first election since both parties fully plunged in to the new world of campaign finance created by Supreme Court decisions that loosened controls on who can spend what and how.

The results were most obvious on TV, which did not lack for political ads in the past. This campaign season in North Carolina: more than 100,000 political ads on TV. Georgia: about 65,000. Kentucky: about 80,000.

Bert Cole, 74, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, couldn't protect himself from the visuals but he did turn the sound off. "I just hit the mute button and let them do their talking."

North Carolina featured the most expensive Senate race in the nation, with more than $108 million spent trying to shape the outcome of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's re-election bid against Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Most of the money was from outside groups. Polls suggested the contest was in a tie.

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MORE RACES TO WATCH

Like Walker and Brownback, GOP governors Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, Rick Scott in Florida, Paul LePage in Maine and Rick Snyder in Michigan won with tea party support in 2010 and are standing for re-election for the first time.

In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican Thomas Foley are in rematch of their 2010 race, which Malloy won by fewer than 6,500 votes.

In Kansas, independent Greg Orman could become the kingmaker of the Senate if he defeats Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Orman could align himself with either party, possibly determining which of them controls the chamber.

In Kentucky: Republican Mitch McConnell vs. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. The Senate GOP leader survived a primary challenge from the right, and a Grimes victory would be a huge upset.

In New Hampshire: Democrat Jeanne Shaheen vs. Republican Scott Brown. Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts, seeks a comeback, this time from across the state line.

In Colorado: Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner are in a fierce race, as are Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez.

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ALSO ON THE BALLOT

Among nearly 150 ballot measures being decided Tuesday: legalization of recreational marijuana use in Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Oregon. Anti-abortion measures in Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee. Labeling requirements for certain genetically modified foods in Colorado and Oregon.

31 PHOTOS
Obama midterm election
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Hot races, big stakes on midterm election ballot
President Barack Obama waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arriving at JFK International Airport Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama salutes military personnel as he walks down the stairs from Air Force One upon arrival at JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, leaves JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The president is in New York to attend fundraisers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama, salutes Marines honor guards as he disembarks from Marine One to switch to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, for a trip to New York City and Greenwich, Conn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama signs the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama smiles after signing the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. With him from left are Arilma St. Clair, president of the DC Chapter of the National Assoc. of Hispanic Nurses, Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President, Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., Jean Moody Williams, CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Deputy Director, and Larry Minnix, CEO and President of Leading Age. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. From left are, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the president and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama speaks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterrans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington. (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - Arthur Wilson, President of DVLMF, left, President Barack Obama, Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, Lois Pope Chairman of the DVLMF and Robert Vogel Superintendent , National Mall and Memorial Parks, attend the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
First lady Michelle Obama applauds after speaking at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, where he spoke about the economy. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama works the rope line after delivering remarks at Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama, left, greets Lois Pope, Chairman DVLMF during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press after a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama met with the national security team and senior staff on stopping the outbreak of Ebola. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama and Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke wave during a at a campaign event for Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - This April 28, 2014 file photo showsU.S. President Barack Obama toasting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, during a state dinner at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, following the signing of the Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The Obama administration is still chipping away at its grand plan for a rebalance to Asia that began within months of Obama taking office in 2009, when the U.S. signed a cooperation treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (AP Photo/Francis R. Malasig, Pool)
President Barack Obama greets actor Gary Sinise, right, during the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke during a campaign rally at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama (4th L) greets supporters at a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (R) at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Jennifer Beall, founder & CEO of CleanBeeBaby, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats, listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Biden is on a six-city swing that includes stops in Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington state. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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