WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans are threatening to wipe away the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in the November 2 election on a wave of voter concern about the economy and President Barack Obama’s agenda.
Republicans need to pick up 39 Democratic seats to claim a 218-vote House majority, and are well positioned to manage it. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists 86 Democratic seats as highly competitive or likely to switch -- a huge playing field in the 435-seat House. All members are elected for two-year terms.
Here are 12 of the top House races:
Florida’s 24th District - First-term Democratic incumbent Suzanne Kosmas backed the stimulus package, final healthcare overhaul and climate change bill, putting her on the defensive early in a Republican-leaning district. She has since gone on the attack against challenger Sandy Adams but appears to be in deep trouble.
Virginia 5 - Democratic first-termer Tom Perriello has been on a political death watch in his conservative district, with most recent polls showing Republican challenger Robert Hurt well ahead. Perriello released an internal poll showing him running even.
Louisiana 2 - Freshman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese American in Congress, is the most vulnerable House Republican and faces a tough fight in a heavily Democratic district. Cao won in 2008 after incumbent Democrat William Jefferson was found with $90,000 in his freezer -- the sort of election break Cao will not get this time.
Colorado 4 - Hoping to dispel predictions of doom, first-term incumbent Democrat Betsy Markey released a recent campaign poll showing she was tied with Republican challenger Cory Gardner at 38 percent -- a dismal number for an incumbent.
Texas 17 - Ten-term incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards has kept his political career alive by reaching across the aisle in his heavily Republican district, home to former President George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch. But in an anti-Washington year Republican businessman Bill Flores may put an end to that streak.
Florida 8 - The first-term Democrat Alan Grayson became a favorite of left-wing blogs and a target for conservative activists last year after he described the Republican healthcare plan as “die quickly.” Grayson thrives on the attention and has run a series of hard-hitting attacks on Republican Dan Webster.
Ohio 1 - Democratic incumbent Steve Driehaus won in 2008 with the help of a big turnout by black voters drawn to the polls in Cincinnati by Obama’s candidacy. That is unlikely this time around, and Driehaus might pay the price in the race against former Republican Representative Steve Chabot.
Pennsylvania 3 - Kathy Dahlkemper has defended her votes on healthcare and the stimulus from Republican attacks, but trails car dealer Mike Kelly in polls in a northwestern Pennsylvania district won by Obama in 2008.
North Dakota At Large - Democrat Earl Pomeroy has won nine terms in his conservative state but has never faced a political climate as tough as this. Public and internal polling shows a tight race with Republican Rick Berg.
Maryland 1 - Freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil has tried to emphasize his independence from Obama and national Democrats after narrowly winning election in his Republican-leaning district in 2008. But his rematch with Republican Andy Harris promises to be tough.
Ohio 16 - In a district hit hard by job losses, Democrat John Boccieri’s first ad accused Republican opponent Jim Renacci of backing tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. Renacci has tied Boccieri to Obama and criticized his support for healthcare and climate change bills.
Colorado 3 - Democrat John Salazar, the brother of Interior secretary Ken Salazar, won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his rematch with 2006 Republican opponent Scott Tipton. But the going may be tougher this time, with voter dissatisfaction with Democrats running high.
Reporting by John Whitesides, Editing by Jackie Frank