Third of U.S. seats up for grabs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Third of U.S. seats up for grabs

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by Lester Holt

(NBC)-- One third of the U.S Senate-seats and all 435 in the House of Representatives are up for grabs today.

There are some very tight races across the country and some powerful incumbents in surprising danger of losing their jobs.

Is 60 the new 51? For Democrats, building a fillbuster-proof majority in the Senate, is the best possible outcome of a night in which polls show they will likely expand their majority in both houses.

"Having won control of the house and senate in 2006, this is a chance for Democrats to build something really really big, but the downside is they're going to own it,'' said political analyst Charlie Cook.  

With no Democratic seats in apparent jeopardy, to reach 60 Senate votes they have to switch at least 9 Republican seats. Their best chances? Polls show Democrats leading in races for open Republican seats in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado. Alaska is also in play, along with some other once safe Republican seats.

With Democrats also predicted to make double digit gains in the House Republicans are already soul searching.

We have to look at how we got so out of touch with the American people and so fail to perform that we lost in 2006 and that we're going to clearly be, even if Senator McCain pulls off an amazing personal victory, the party will still be in trouble,'' said former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.  

Republicans have been trying to convince voters complete Democratic control of Washington would be dangerous.

Democrats see a chance to move forward on their economic, energy and health care agendas.

Democrats understand the dangers of trying to move too quickly all of a sudden in one direction, but we also understand the urgency of the challenges before us," said Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Newt Gingrich whose party took both houses in 1994, believes the only mandate in play is the voters desire for something other than George bush.

It is very dangerous for the democrats to think that this is an ideological election,'' said Gingrich.

Online Producer: Michelle Caldwell

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