Key political races, by the hour |

Key political races, by the hour

With so many races – not to mention control of the House and Senate – in the balance, it is hard to know where to look on election night. An hour-by-hour guide (all times MDT) to the races that will serve as leading indicators on where the outcome is headed:

5 p.m.: Three House races in Indiana will tell us what kind of night it will be for Democrats. The 8th District open seat is a certain pickup for Republicans, while the 9th District fight between Rep. Baron Hill, a Democrat, and Republican lawyer Todd Young is a jump ball. Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is favored in the South Bend-based 2nd District. If Democrats lose just one of those three, they can hold the House. Lose two, and their majority probably will be gone. Lose all three, and Republicans will gain upward of 60 seats. In Kentucky, Republicans are spending money on semi-longshot challenger Andy Barr in the 6th District race against Rep. Ben Chandler. If Chandler loses, Republicans could log a historic number of pickups. In the Kentucky Senate race, if state Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, can defeat ophthalmologist Rand Paul, it would be a major upset for Democrats.

5:30 p.m.: Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is in deep political peril in his race against Republican former Rep. John Kasich. The White House would love to see Strickland win because controlling the governor’s mansion in a state apt to be competitive in 2012 could give President Barack Obama a leg up. In West Virginia, popular Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, appears to have stabilized his bid for the state’s open Senate seat. But Obama and national Democrats are very unpopular in West Virginia, and that could drag Republican John Raese, a wealthy businessman, across the finish line.

6 p.m.: The marquee governor’s race of the night will be in Florida, between state chief financial officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, and former health care exec Rick Scott. Both parties have dumped scads of money into the state, and Democrats see the outcome as crucial to their entire night. Also keep an eye on south Florida’s 25th District open-seat race, a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup.

Read more: Key political races, by the hour – The Denver Post

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