Florida 9: Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) vs. Todd Long (R)
In just one term in Congress, Democrat Alan Grayson mastered the art of making headlines with his blunt and abrasive rhetorical style. During the debate over health care, he said the Republican health care plan was, "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly." He also said on CNN that Republicans were "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals." In a 2010 TV ad, he called his Republican opponent Daniel Webster "Taliban Dan." Although he quickly became a hero among liberals, Grayson went on to lose his bid for a second term by a staggering 18 points.
Grayson is running in a new district in the Orlando suburbs and his Republican opponent is Todd Long, an attorney, small businessman and conservative radio show host.
Florida 18: Rep. Allen West (R) vs. Patrick Murphy (D)
Rep. Allen West is a top target for Democrats The freshman Republican's sharp rhetoric during his first term has not endeared him to colleagues across the aisle. For instance, West last summer emailed Democratic National Committee Chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that she was "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives." West's Democratic opponent is Patrick Murphy, a businessman and executive with a construction firm. West has a huge fundraising advantage but Murphy has been running ads and the race is very competitive.
Florida 26: Rep. David Rivera (R) vs. Joe Garcia (D)
The race in Florida's southernmost congressional district is a rematch of 2010, but the dynamics could not be more different. Republican incumbent David Rivera was elected in the Republican wave two years ago. Democrat Joe Garcia, a former Miami-Dade County Democratic party chairman who lost by nine points. The key difference this time around is that Rivera has been dogged by scandal and ethics issues. The district is still Republican-friendly and Garcia enters the final stretch in better position than two years ago.
Georgia 12: Rep. John Barrow (D) vs. Lee Anderson (R)
Democratic incumbent John Barrow is fighting for his political life in this heavily Republican district, which is far better than Republicans expected at this point when they drew the district's boundaries. According to an analysis by the Cook Political Report, President Barack Obama's 2008 vote percentage in Barrow's new district is 44%, compared to 55% under the old lines. Despite the unfavorable political landscape, Barrow has made the race competitive. He has far outpaced his Republican opponent, state Rep. Lee Anderson, in fundraising. He also has been in general election mode from the start compared to Anderson, who emerged weakened from a competitive primary.
Ilinois 2: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) vs. Brian Woodworth (R)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s biggest obstacle to a ninth full term in Congress might be himself. Jackson has been on medical leave since June for an undisclosed ailment, which his office later described as a "mood disorder." In mid-October, CNN confirmed that Jackson was the subject of a federal investigation over possible financial improprieties. In late October, Jackson released a campaign robocall to constituents saying he was undergoing treatment for "several serious health issues" and asked for "your continued patience as I work to get my health back." Republican opponent Brian Woodworth, an attorney and university professor, has criticized him for leaving the district unrepresented. Despite his absence, Jackson is expected to win fairly easily.
Illinois 8: Rep. Joe Walsh (R) vs. Tammy Duckworth (D)
Freshman Republican Joe Walsh is high on the list of most endangered GOP incumbents. Walsh barely won his seat in 2010 and redistricting has made it more Democratic. He has the additional misfortune of running in a presidential election year with favorite son Barack Obama heading the ticket for the other party. Walsh also has made headlines with various controversial statements, including most recently one that medical science has advanced to the point where abortions are never necessary to save a woman's life. Democrat Tammy Duckworth, decorated Iraq war veteran, led in fundraising and enters the final stretch with an advantage.
Illinois 10: Rep. Robert Dold (R) vs. Brad Schneider (D)
Republican Robert Dold won this Democratic-friendly district in the Republican wave of 2010, replacing fellow Republican Mark Kirk, who ran for the U.S. Senate. The redrawn district is more Democratic-friendly, but Dold has kept the race competitive. His Democratic opponent is businessman Brad Schneider, who emerged battered from a competitive primary. Dold entered the final month of the campaign with a huge cash advantage but Schneider has benefited from sizable TV ad buys from the national Democratic party and from a pro-Democratic super PAC, but he still trails the overall TV ad dollars invested by Dold, the national Republican party and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Iowa 3: Rep. Tom Latham (R) vs. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D)
Iowa was one of 10 states to lose seats in Congress because of redistricting, setting up a member-on-member showdown between two veteran lawmakers in a merged Des Moines-area district. Democrat Leonard Boswell represented much of this new district in the late 1990s. Republican Tom Latham has a considerable fundraising advantage due in part to his close friendship with House Speaker John Boehner. The cash advantage is apparent on the airwaves, where Latham has outspent Boswell, even when counting the considerable assistance the Democrat has received from his national party. Boswell is no stranger to tight races. He survived the Republican wave of 2010. The presidential race will boost Democratic turnout, but his new district has many more "red" counties than the one he'd represented for the past 10 years. The race will be competitive.
Iowa 4: Rep. Steve King (R) vs. Christie Vilsack (D)
Republican incumbent Steve King's bid for a sixth term in Congress will be his toughest. King won re-election in his old western Iowa district with 66% of the vote in 2010, and he's never dipped below 59% in any of his previous races. This year, he faces a new district and a tough new challenger in Democrat Christie Vilsack, Iowa's former first lady and the wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The good news for King is that his enormous new district in the northwest part of the state is comprised mostly of counties won by John McCain in 2008. King has had a fundraising advantage over Vilsack. But Vilsack is the strongest possible candidate Democrats could have fielded. She has been competitive financially. The political makeup of the district is still a bit of a reach for a Democrat.
Louisiana 3: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) vs. Rep. Jeff Landry (R)
As in California, redistricting and a "top-two" primary system have forced two incumbent lawmakers of the same party into a November showdown. Republican Charles Boustany, a surgeon elected in 2004, faces freshman Republican Jeff Landry, an attorney and businessman, former police office and tea party favorite. Boustany represents significantly more of the new district than Landry, but the freshman proved he is capable of pulling off surprises when he defeated the better-known former Louisiana House speaker in the 2010 primary. Under state law, the November election will serve as an open primary, in which the top two finishers will advance to a December runoff if no one gets a majority.
Maryland 6: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) vs. John Delaney (D)
By all accounts, Republican Roscoe Bartlett's bid for an 11th term appears to be his last. The long-time western Maryland representative was a top target for Democrats who redrew the district last year. As a result, his once-safe seat now stretches from the state's westernmost point to include a sizable piece of heavily Democratic Montgomery County and now reaches almost to the District of Columbia border. His Democratic opponent is John Delaney, a wealthy businessman. Delaney pulled an upset in the Democratic primary over Rob Garagiola, a state senator with a string of endorsements from party establishment-types, including Gov. Martin O'Malley. Bartlett has little hope of pulling out a miracle.
Massachusetts 4: Joe Kennedy III (D) vs. Sean Bielat (R)
Open Democratic-held seat
When Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island left office in January 2011, it ended his family's 64-year streak of service in Congress that began with the swearing-in of freshman congressman John F. Kennedy. In 2012, Democratic congressional candidate Joe Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, hopes to begin a new streak by replacing retiring Rep. Barney Frank in the 4th Congressional District. Kennedy, a former prosecutor and Peace Corps member, is heavily favored to win; no member of his family has ever lost a race in Massachusetts. His opponent is Republican Sean Bielat, a businessman and Marine Corps reservist.
Massachusetts 6: Rep. John Tierney (D) vs. Richard Tisei (R)
Rep. John Tierney is in danger of becoming the first Democrat to lose a U.S. House race in Massachusetts since 1994. The eight-term incumbent has been dogged by a financial scandal involving his wife and her brothers and an illegal gambling operation. The Republican nominee is Richard Tisei, a former state senator who is openly gay. Tierney has been pounded with more than $3 million in ads this cycle from Tisei, the national Republican party and pro-Republican groups, eager to defeat a Democrat in Massachusetts. The district is Democratic but the ongoing scandal appears to have taken a toll. A last September Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire poll had Tisei with 37%, Tierney with 30% and 30% undecided.
Minnesota 6: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) vs. Jim Graves (D)
Tea party favorite Michele Bachmann was a shoo-in for re-election when she folded up her presidential campaign in January. Ten months later, Bachmann still has the advantage but she faces a tough challenger in Jim Graves, a wealthy businessman. Graves has waged a competitive race in October, spending $1.2 million in TV ads, compared to $1.7 million for Bachmann. The conservative congresswoman has never posted huge numbers on Election Night, but redistricting has made her district slightly more Republican. Defeating a high-profile conservative like Bachmann would be a nice win for Democrats, but she is not at the top of the list of vulnerable Republican incumbents.
Nevada 4: Steven Horsford (D) vs. Danny Tarkanian (R)
There's a competitive race in Nevada's newest congressional district. The nominees are Democrat Steven Horsford, the state senate majority leader, and Republican Danny Tarkanian, a businessman and son of UNLV basketball coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian. The younger Tarkanian was a 2010 U.S. Senate candidate but placed third in the Republican primary. The two candidates have been fairly evenly matched in terms of fundraising as well as the assistance they've received from their national parties and from outside groups in terms of TV ads. The district leans slightly Democratic. The outcome could be affected by competitive races for president and U.S. Senate higher up on the ballot.
New Hampshire 1: Rep. Frank Guinta (R) vs. Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D)
As was the case in 2010, Republican Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter face off in the battle for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. This time, Guinta is the incumbent and Shea-Porter is the challenger. Shea-Porter was elected in the Democratic wave of 2006 and served two terms before losing to Guinta in 2010, 54%-42%. The two are fairly evenly matched in fundraising. The race is competitive. A strong showing by Obama or Romney at the top of the ticket will be an important factor.
New Hampshire 2: Rep. Charlie Bass (R) vs. Ann McLane Kuster (D)
The incumbent is Republican incumbent Charlie Bass faces Ann McLane Kuster. Kuster lost to Bass in the general election in 2010 but is running again. Bass narrowly beat and she has outraised Bass though they started October with roughly the same amount in the bank. The Democrat has far outspent her opponent on the airwaves even though the national Republican party has invested funds on behalf of Bass. A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll from early October had Kuster at 38%, Bass 35%, with 25% unsure. The district is more Democratic the state's other region, which works in Kuster's favor.