DELAWARE (3 electoral votes)
Three out of four ain't bad, and that's what Democrats have in store. Dole lost the primary here last winter and barely has tried since. Clinton benefits from the popularity of Gov. Tom Carper (D), going for a second term against state Treasurer Janet Rzewnicki (R), and Sen. Joseph Biden (D), favored for a fifth term over businessman Raymond Clatworthy (R). Rep. Michael Castle (R) will prevent a Democratic sweep. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (3)
As always in the overwhelmingly Democratic District, that party's presidential candidate is all but assured of winning the capital's small store of electoral votes. And the city's voice in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), has token opposition. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the District, 282,276 to 25,430, with 47,993 independents. Republicans have one bright spot: former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz is likely to return to a citywide spot on that body. MARYLAND (10)
Not much excitement here since the Orioles expired. The campaign has been a snoozer in this almost one-party state. Clinton runs far ahead and while challengers to Reps. Robert Ehrlich (R), Steny Hoyer (D) and Connie Morella (R) have made some noise, no change is expected in the House delegation. NEW JERSEY (15)
The Garden State was supposed to be the model for Dole's success. Like Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R), he would offer an across-the-board tax cut and sweep out a Democratic incumbent. It doesn't look as if it is working even in New Jersey, where the Dole campaign pulled out when polls showed him more than 20 percentage points down.
That left the stage to the contestants for the Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Sen. Bill Bradley (D): Rep. Bob Torricelli (D) and Rep. Dick Zimmer (R). As one observer remarked last week, "Neither of them was known outside his district when this began, and neither has given voters any reason to want to know him better." The campaign has been an exchange of accusations, and despite the candidates' spending an estimated $350,000 a day on New York and Philadelphia TV ads, almost half the voters last week told pollsters they had no idea who they'd support. A New Jersey political veteran remarked, "Neither of these guys is a stand-alone candidate who can buck the tide." For that reason alone, Torricelli may rate a slight edge.
The House seats Zimmer and Torricelli gave up are being strongly contested. In the former, the GOP candidate, Somerset County commissioner Mike Pappas, is more conservative on abortion and gun control than Whitman or Zimmer. Democrats hope Lambertville Mayor David Del Vecchio can pick up enough dissident Republicans and independents to win, but it may be a stretch. In Torricelli's suburban district, the GOP candidate fits the moderate mold. She is Bergen County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, a Whitman pal with a record that won her a rare teachers' union Republican endorsement. Her opponent, former Englewood mayor Steve Rothman (D), is arguing Donovan would still be an extra vote for Gingrich, but she has a real chance.
Freshman Rep. Bill Martini (R) has worked to entrench himself in his swing district, but Paterson Mayor William Pascrell (D) has the right profile to reverse Martini's 1,400-vote victory of 1994. All three of these House races can be called tossups. NORTH CAROLINA (14)
Elizabeth Hanford Dole's home state is not going to let her husband down. It flirted with Clinton, as it did in 1992, but late polls put it narrowly in the GOP column.
Gov. Jim Hunt (D) has been in office so long that he seems attached to the job. Voters are sure attached to him, and his margin over Robin Hayes (R), a hosiery mill owner, will show it. No easy call on the rematch, six years later, between Sen. Jesse Helms (R) and Harvey Gantt (D), former mayor of Charlotte. Now 75, Helms has reached the point where a large majority of voters tell pollsters they are ready to see him retired. But Helms is the master of making his opponent seem unacceptable. Racial issues always have been prominent in his campaigns and in this one, like 1990's, he has found ways to suggest Gantt, an African American, favors and has benefited from quotas. Republican strategists say if Helms wins again, it will be with no room to spare.
North Carolina was happy hunting ground for GOP congressional candidates in 1994, so the state is key to Democratic hopes for a comeback. Two of the four freshmen have strong challenges. Most endangered is Rep. Frederick Heineman, facing ex-representative David Price (D), a Duke political scientist who lost in 1994 by 1,215 votes. Polls have given Price a slight lead. Rep. David Funderburk (R), a staunch conservative, faces state Superintendent of Public Instruction Bobby Etheridge (D). An auto accident in which, police said, Funderburk tried to shift responsibility to his wife, has become a controversial issue. Republicans have targeted the open seat of retired Rep. Charlie Rose (D), where New Hanover County Commissioner Bill Caster (R) has a chance of upsetting lawyer Mike McIntyre (D), who has been kept busy explaining away his ties to a major contributor arrested on a charge of cocaine dealing. PENNSYLVANIA (23)
Despite having a GOP governor and two Republican senators, the Keystone state fits comfortably into the Democratic electoral base, and Clinton has kept it there again.
Two freshman Republicans are being strongly challenged. In the Philadelphia suburbs, Rep. Jon Fox (R), who ousted freshman Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D), has Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Hoeffel (D) trying to make him the turnabout victim. In Erie, Rep. Phil English (R) is up against lawyer Ronald DiNicola (D) in a district that often votes Democratic. Both Fox and English are slight favorites.
The vacancy left by the retirement of Rep. Robert Walker (R) is almost certain to go to state Rep. Joseph Pitts (R). But what should have been another smooth GOP transition, from retiree Rep. William Clinger (R) to state Sen. John Peterson (R), has been complicated by a Harrisburg newspaper report of women charging Peterson with sexual harassment. He has denied the story but it has created an unusual opportunity for his opponent, state Rep. Ruth Rudy (D). Veteran Rep. Joseph M. McDade (R), acquitted this year of federal bribery charges, seems likely to win over lawyer Joe Cullen (D). VIRGINIA (13)
Without breaking a sweat, Clinton has managed to run almost neck and neck with Dole in this GOP redoubt. But despite an eleventh-hour campaign stop and a television ad buy, he must beat the odds to become the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to take Virginia. Late polls put Dole slightly on top.
Whatever Dole's struggles, Sen. John Warner (R) retains a clear lead on a fourth term. Some Democratic strategists say challenger Mark Warner (D), no relation, has narrowed the gap considerably with a $9 million media blitz, financed from his cellular telephone fortune. But indications are that 1 in 5 Clinton voters may be ready to reelect the senator, mostly to reward his opposition to Oliver North's 1994 Senate bid.
The only House battleground is in the seat vacated by retired Rep. Lewis Payne (D). State Sen. Virgil Goode is favored over lawyer George Landrith (R). Incumbents elsewhere look safe, including Washington-area Reps. James Moran (D), Frank Wolf (R) and Tom Davis (R). WEST VIRGINIA (5)
It is not news that Clinton -- or any Democratic presidential candidate -- will win in the Mountaineer state. Nor does it come as a shock that Sen. "Jay" Rockefeller (D) is on his way to a third term over the nominal opposition of nurse Betty Burks (R).
What is news is that West Virginia may have a GOP governor for one of the few times in recent history, the same Republican that it had 40 years ago. Cecil Underwood, who served a single term from 1957 to 1961, and then was unsuccessful in four other tries for governor or senator, decided on a comeback at age 73. He has a chance of winning because the alternative is to elect the first female governor and one with a reputation. Former state legislator Charlotte Pritt (D) has a reputation among her fellow-Democratic politicians for breaking the rules. In 1992, she challenged Gov. Gaston Caperton (D) for renomination. When she lost, she further aggravated Democrats by launching a write-in campaign. Caperton won but must step down now after two terms. He and such other powerhouses as Sen. Robert Byrd (D) are signaling by their aloofness to Pritt that it's all right for Democrats to take a walk. The result is a tossup. THE MID-ATLANTIC NORTH CAROLINA SENATE In a rerun of their 1990 race, Helms leads Gantt, but not by much. Gantt could be the South's first African American senator since Reconstruction. NEW JERSEY SENATE Reps. Torricelli and Zimmer are locked in a race too close to call after one of the most expensive -- and easily the most negative -- Senate campaigns. CAPTION: Harvey Gantt (D) CAPTION: Jesse Helms (R) CAPTION: Robert Torricelli (D) CAPTION: Dick Zimmer (R)