Races to Watch: An Election Night TV Guide

During the summer, I wrote two columns dealing with the effort by Democrats to retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Aug. 7, I made the flat prediction that Democrats would pick up at least 25 seats, giving them a 10-vote margin. On July 17, I wrote an election night primer, pointing out that we would know early in the evening about whether Democrats had taken control of the House because most of the races were concentrated in the Eastern and Central times zones.

It’s now time to update those two columns in light of intervening events. I am now even more certain that Democrats will take control of the House and believe the net gain will be at least 30 seats and that we will certainly know the outcome early in the evening. My optimism is fueled by the Mark Foley-page scandal and the worsening situation in Iraq.

Here’s my updated list of races to watch by time zone.

Let’s start by noting that the Democrats’ magic number is now 12, rather than 15. Democrats clearly will win DeLay’s old seat in Texas (the Republicans must run a write-in campaign that is virtually impossible with new electronic voting machines), Foley’s seat (under a bizarre Florida election statute voters must vote for Foley in order to have their votes counted for the replacement nominee) and Jim Kolbe’s seat in Arizona (Republicans have given up on this race).

Now, let’s get to the breakdown by time zone.

Eastern Time Zone:

Connecticut: The three Republican seats held by Nancy Johnson, Chris Shays and Rob Simmons are very much in play. If Democrats win two, it will be a tough night for Republicans. If Democrats win all three, it’s lights out for the GOP.

Florida: As indicated above, the Foley seat is gone and Democrats have an excellent shot at the Republican seat currently held by Clay Shaw. Several other seats may also be in play because of the sour mood of the electorate after the page scandal.

Indiana: Three Republican seats currently held by Mike Sodrel, John Hostettler, and Chris Chocola are very much in play. Two victories by Democrats indicate a tough night for Republicans and it’s lights out if Democrats win all three.

Kentucky: Three Republican seats held by Geoff Davis, Ann Northup and Ron Lewis are in play. A Democratic victory in any of three indicates a good Democratic year.

New Hampshire: Two Republican seats currently held by Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley are in play. Winning either seat would indicate a big night for Democrats. Winning both would mean a landslide nationally.

New Jersey: The Republican seat currently held by Mike Ferguson is in play. A victory by the Democrat would mean a big night is in progress.

New York: All of a sudden there are six Republican seats in New York in play: seats currently held by Sherwood Boehlert (who is retiring), John Sweeney, Randy Kuhl, Tom Reynolds, Sue Kelly and Jim Walsh. Two victories mean that Democrats are on their way. Any more than that is the leading edge of a wipeout. Defeating Reynolds would be particularly sweet for Democrats since he is the current chairman of the House Republican campaign committee.

North Carolina: The Republican seat currently held by Charlie Taylor is in play. Any Democratic victory in the South means a big night.

Ohio: This is ground zero for the Republicans. They could lose the seat held by Bob Ney (who pled guilty in the Abramoff scandal) as well as seats currently held by Deborah Price (one of the Republican leaders who didn’t act promptly to head off the page scandal) and Steve Chabot. Ohio could be a clean sweep for Democrats with the party winning both the governor’s office and the U.S. Senate seat.

Pennsylvania: Four seats currently held by Republicans Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick, Curt Weldon and Don Sherwood are seriously in play. Pennsylvania is just like Ohio, with Democrats likely to win both the governorship and the U.S. Senate seat. If the statewide tide is big enough, other Republican Congressional seats might also be in jeopardy. Two Democratic Congressional victories would indicate a good night. Any more than that would presage a wipeout nationally.

Virginia: The Republican seat currently held by Virginia Drake is in play. Like North Carolina, any Democratic pickup in the South means a big night.

Central Time Zone:

Illinois: The Republican seat currently held by Henry Hyde (who is retiring) is in play. A victory here means a good night for Democrats.

Iowa: The Republican seat currently held by Jim Nussle, who is running for governor, is in play. A Democratic loss in this seat would mean the tide is not running as strongly nationally as some thought.

Minnesota: The Republican seat currently held by Mark Kennedy, who is running for the Senate, is in play. A Democratic victory indicates a good night for Democrats.

Texas: The Republican seat previously held by Tom DeLay will go Democratic. If Democrats also pick up the seat currently held by Republican Ron Paul or the seat currently held by Henry Bonilla, the dam is broken nationally

Wisconsin: The Republican seat currently held by Mark Green, who is running for governor, is in play. A Democratic victory indicates a good night.

Mountain and Pacific Time Zone:

Democrats will pick up seats currently held in Arizona by Jim Kolbe, who is retiring, and in Colorado by Bob Beauprez, who is running for governor. Other possible pickups include the New Mexico seat currently held by Heather Wilson, the Washington seat currently held by Dave Reichert and the California seat currently held by Richard Pombo. Several other Mountain Time zone seats have recently come into play and if any of these (not on this list) go to Democrats, it will be a really big night.

So get your scorecard and the beer and popcorn ready. Nov. 7 will be an interesting night of television viewing-- which could be over very early.

For complete election coverage, click here to visit Foxnews.com's special election section, You Decide 2006.

Martin Frost served in Congress from 1979 to 2005, representing a diverse district in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He served two terms as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the third-ranking leadership position for House Democrats, and two terms as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Frost serves as a regular contributor to FOX News Channel and is a partner at the law firm of Polsinelli, Shalton, Welte and Suelthaus. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center.

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