American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, affiliated with GOP strategist Karl Rove, have spent more than $1 million on independent ads and other boosts for House GOP candidates in New York, Nevada and Arizona. Spokesman Nate Hodson says they plan to spend "tens of millions" more by Election Day. Other groups helping House Republicans include the Congressional Leadership Fund associated with House GOP leaders, the YG Action Fund founded by aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and the Chamber of Commerce.
Democrats are getting assistance from the House Majority PAC connected to House Democratic leaders, the Service Employees International Union and the League of Conservation Voters. But they are expected to be significantly outspent by their GOP rivals.
"They don't have to make decisions" about where to spend campaign funds, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters recently. "They have an endless spigot."
Countering that Republican advantage is the 63 seats they took away from Democrats in 2010, when conservatives streamed to the polls motivated by their hatred of Obama's health care overhaul. GOP strategists acknowledge that some of those new members represent vulnerable districts that historically trend Democratic.
The competition stretches from coast to coast.
California and New York each has nearly 10 seats in play. Illinois, Florida and North Carolina also feature several tight battles. Even solidly Democratic Massachusetts and ruby red Texas each has a competitive race. Rep. Francisco Canseco, R-Texas, is running in a redrawn district that is less friendly to Republicans and Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., faces a tough challenge from Tisei.
States have redrawn their congressional district lines to reflect the 2010 census, but analysts say neither party was advantaged overall. Redistricting did produce 19 new seats in which no House veterans are running, plus five others where incumbents are squaring off: two in California and one each in Iowa, Louisiana and Ohio.
Democrats are virtually certain to lose districts they now hold. They probably will need to capture more than 30 current GOP seats to cement a net pickup of 25.
Seats vacated by retiring Democrats in Arkansas, Indiana, North Carolina and Oklahoma seem likely to fall into Republican hands. Reps. John Barrow of Georgia and Larry Kissell of North Carolina, among the dwindling number of white Democrats representing Southern states, are in difficult re-election bids.
Democrats have strong prospects in Illinois, New Hampshire and Maryland. GOP House members struggling to keep their seats include Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., and freshmen Reps. Joe Walsh and Robert Dold in Illinois.
Republican ads link Democrats to Obama, blaming them for the economy's painfully slow recovery, the job shortage and the health care law. One such ad by the NRCC attacks Barrow for supporting Obama's stimulus bill and voting to raise the government's borrowing limit last year.
"John Barrow — his loyalty to Obama is hurting America," it says, showing pictures of the two men.
Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to kill Medicare and shower the rich with tax cuts, hurting the middle class by cutting education and diminishing women's rights by seeking to curtail abortion. They refer frequently to GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman whose recent spending blueprints have proposed reshaping Medicare and slicing taxes across the board.
"Mitt Romney grabbed the megaphone for us when he chose Paul Ryan," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who heads the DCCC. "He branded this debate and gave us the debate he wanted."
As for Romney's problems, including the secretly recorded video in which he said almost half the country is dependent on government, GOP leaders are studying the impact on House races but "no panic button is being pushed yet," said Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio.
"I continue to feel confident about House Republicans' chances of holding onto our majority," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters.
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