The State of the Election: Northeast
Connecticut (7 electoral votes)
Barack Obama will win handily in a state that has voted Democratic in the past four elections and where the party has a 3-to-1 edge in registration. The expected large turnout is imperiling the last remaining Republican House member from New England, Christopher Shays, from the 4th District. Shays is in a tough fight against Jim Himes, a former emergency medical services technician. Polls showed the 4th District race a statistical dead heat. But surveys also showed that three-quarters of the voters in that district disapprove of President Bush.
Obama leads John McCain here, but while the candidate who wins the statewide vote gets two electoral college votes, the other two are awarded individually based on results from each of the state's congressional districts. Polls show Obama ahead in both districts, but the 2nd District could be competitive.
Sen. Susan Collins (R), a popular centrist, is leading in polls over Democratic Rep. Tom Allen, but both House seats are being contested. In the 1st District seat formerly held by Allen, Democrat Chellie Pingree appears to be the front-runner over Charlie Summers, an Iraq war veteran who previously worked for Sen. Olympia J. Snowe. In the 2nd District, Rep. Michael H. Michaud, who opposes abortion and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is favored over Republican John Frary, a college professor.
This reliably Democratic state will remain so this year, with Obama expected to win by a margin of about 20 points, and Sen. John F. Kerry coasting to an easy reelection over Republican Jeff Beatty.
The state's 10 Democratic House members are all heading for reelection, some with no opposition. But Rep. Barney Frank has found himself having to run television ads after his two opponents -- Republican Earl Sholley and independent Susan Allen -- made an issue of Frank's central role in the $700 billion financial rescue plan.
New York (31)
The Empire State will go solidly for Obama, and Democrats see New York as a treasure trove of likely pickups in the House, eyeing as many as four seats.
Two Democratic gains seem all but guaranteed -- Mike McMahon is heavily favored in the 13th District seat being vacated by Vito J. Fossella (R), who was found guilty this year of driving under the influence. And Dan Maffei is heavily favored in the 25th District, where 10-term incumbent James T. Walsh is retiring and the district is trending Democratic.
In addition, the race for the open 26th District seat is now a tossup, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has poured in $2 million to help Democrat Alice Kryzan in her race against Republican Chris Lee. In the 29th District, Republican incumbent John R. "Randy" Kuhl Jr. is in a tough rematch against Eric Massa, and polls show Massa with a slight edge. The 21st District, centered on Albany, will elect a new House member with the retirement of Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D). Democrat Paul Tonko, a former assemblyman who headed the state Energy Research and Development Authority, should prevail easily over Republican Jim Buhrmaster, who owns a heating and cooling business.
Rhode Island (4)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Democratic primary here with 58 percent of the vote, but the country's most Catholic state is lining up solidly for Obama for the general election, if by a slightly reduced margin.
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, the most popular politician in the state with a 68 percent approval rating, is coasting to reelection.
Obama has a double-digit lead here, but the governor's race could take an interesting turn because of a law that says if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the decision goes to the state legislature. Polls show Republican Gov. Jim Douglas hovering in the 40s, but it is not clear which candidate is the favorite of the Democratic-controlled legislature. The governor's two opponents are Democratic state House Speaker Gaye Symington and independent candidate and political activist Anthony Pollina.