WASHINGTON — A takeover of the House in sight, Republicans brimmed with confidence while Democrats braced for losses on the eve of recession-era elections for control of Congress and dozens of statehouses.
Favorites and underdogs alike went through their final campaign paces Monday, beckoning voters to turn out in the small towns of swing House districts and the large urban centers where statewide races are won and lost.
“It does us no good that people are supporting us if they don’t turn into voters,” said Marco Rubio, a Republican rated a strong favorite for a Senate seat in a tangled multi-candidate race in Florida.
“When people vote, we win,” said Sen. Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat whose re-election bid was written off weeks ago by strategists in her own party.
There was little or no doubt that Republicans would pick up seats in a campaign their leaders cast as a repudiation of the president’s policies.
But in the Senate, in particular, the size of the gains depended on the fate of several tea party-backed candidates who toppled establishment candidates in the primaries and now face statewide electorates.
All 435 House seats are on the ballot Tuesday, and Republicans need to gain 40 to regain the majority they lost four years ago. More than 100 seats are seen as competitive — or already given up for lost by the Democrats.
There are 37 Senate elections, and Republicans need to pick up 10 to win the majority, a more distant possibility than gaining House control. A half-dozen or more remained too close to call.
Some races to watch:
Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran a write-in campaign in hopes of avenging a Republican primary defeat at the hands of Joe Miller — and the Democrats jumped in with late cash in hopes of lifting their candidate, Scott McAdams, to Senate victory.
Arizona: Sen. John McCain is coasting to a fifth term after a tough GOP primary. Gov. Jan Brewer also is on track for re-election. Four House Democrats are in trouble.
Arkansas: Two-term Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln will likely lose to Rep. John Boozman. GOP aims to win two open Democratic House seats.
California: Former Gov. Jerry Brown leads Republican Meg Whitman in polls. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is in close race with Carly Fiorina.
Colorado: Sen. Michael Bennet and tea party-backed Republican Ken Buck are in a close race.
Connecticut: Governor’s race between Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley.
Delaware: GOP candidate Christine O’Donnell never got traction in a Senate race versus Chris Coons. Rare pickup opportunity for House Democrats.
Hawaii: Neil Abercrombie tries to regain governorship for Democrats.
Illinois: Republicans make play for governor, Senate seat and three House seats in Obama’s home state.
Kentucky: Tea party favorite Rand Paul builds a modest lead in late polls in Senate race; did Democrat Jack Conway’s Aqua Buddha ad backfire?
Louisiana: GOP David Vitter is on track to win new Senate term, says wife, family, God and voters forgive him in sex scandal.
Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in an extremely close race with Republican Sharron Angle in a state with 14.4 percent joblessness.
Ohio: Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and former Rep. John Kasich are in tight race.
Rhode Island: Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee tries for the governorship his father once held.
South Carolina: Tea party favorite Nikki Haley is favored in the governor’s race.
Utah: Republican Mike Lee is coasting to the Senate after the tea party jettisoned GOP Sen. Bob Bennett in the spring.
West Virginia: Gov. Joe Manchin is in close race with Republican John Raese to fill out the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd.
Wisconsin: Three-term Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold is the underdog to Republican challenger Ron Johnson.