This year Pennsylvania and Ohio will be key to the GOP strategy and it is here that the Democrats will try to hold on to enough House seats to keep control of the Lower Chamber. Both also have competitive races for governor and senator as well.
Pennsylvania is bluer than Ohio. A Republican president hasn't carried the state since 1988. George W. Bush made huge efforts (especially in 2004) to carry the state but still came up short. Ohio is much more red but Obama was able to carry the state in 2008.
Pennsylvania's governor's race should end up being an easy victory for Tom Corbett, the Republican Attorney General. He's been running ten points ahead of his Democratic opponent all year and seems to be cruising to victory. In Ohio the race is much closer. The incumbent, Democrat Ted Strickland, is facing a tough challenge from John Kasich-a long time conservative politician who served several terms in the House before retiring a few years back. Considering Ohio's high unemployment rate it would seem that Kasich should have more of a lead than he does but he's about tied with Strickland in most polls. I suspect strongly that Kasich will win the seat by about four points as the ecconomy continues to struggle and is not producing the jobs Strickland needs to keep his seat.
Pennsylvania's senate race is a classic conservative/liberal matchup. Republican Pat Toomey is slightly ahead of Joe Sestak in the race to replace the legendary Arlen Spector. Toomey has been ahead in most polls and should win this race as Pennsylvania has been turning much more red in the last twelve months.
Ohio also has an open senate seat and Lt Governor Fisher is facing Republican Rob Portman. Fisher's prospects are certainly tied to Strickland which puts him on the defensive. Portman is well known, has a pile of cash and a solid GOP organization in Ohio. Fisher could still win this race but he'd have to run a nearly perfect campaign to get across the finish line. He's going to have to find a way to get the first-time voters that won the Presidency for Obama to come out again. If he can't get them into the game he can't win.
I have a feeling the Democrats are going to lose several House seats in these two states.
Dahlkemper PA CD3
Driehaus OH CD1
Kilory OH CD15
Boccieri OH CD16
In deep trouble:
Altmire PA CD4
Open PA CD7
Murphy PA CD8
Carney PA CD10
Kanjorski PA CD11
Holden PA CD17
Wilson OH CD2
Sutton OH CD13
If the GOP ran the table in these House races they would be more than a quarter of the way to control. I suspect strongly they will pick up at least six or seven of these seats in what could be a long night for Democrats in these two large industrial states.