GOP appears poised to take control

SOURCE: U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON — Voters hate Washington, and they'll get their chance to shake things up in November's midterm elections.

The big question is whether the Republicans can win control of the Senate while holding the House of Representatives, which would give them control of the entire Congress for the remaining two years of Barack Obama's presidency and set the stage for the 2016 elections.

At stake this fall are 36 of the Senate's 100 seats, all 435 House seats and 36 governorships.

Republicans start with a decided edge:

• The most vulnerable Democrats are in states Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won two years ago.

• Republicans are already strong favorites to win Democratic-held seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.

• The GOP s strongest candidates survived primary challengers from Tea Party loyalists, who have often been volatile and potentially losing general election candidates in the past.

• Obama s nagging poll numbers are making him a drag on Democrats. Voters, by a 41 to 32 percent plurality, say Obama makes them more likely to vote for a Republican, according to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll. Forty percent approved of how Obama was doing his job, the second-worst showing of his presidency.

"Republicans are going to have a good election night. We just don't know how good it's going to be," said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats for a Senate majority. Independent analysts predict Republicans gains of four to eight seats.

Battleground-state Democrats continue to make good poll showings, since the Republican brand also is tarnished.

"The public is wary of both parties," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, as last fall's partial government shutdown continues to hurt the Republicans' image.

If there's to be a big change, it'll happen in the Senate, but even that's no certainty.

"This is a Republican year, but it's more a tilt than a wave," Sabato said.

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