Not since 1994 has the party in power -- in this case the Republicans -- faced such a discouraging landscape in a midterm election. President Bush is weaker than he was just a year ago, a majority of voters in recent polls have signaled their desire for a change in direction, and Democrats outpoll Republicans on which party voters think is more capable of handling the country's biggest problems.
The result is a midterm already headed toward what appears to be an inevitable conclusion: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the House and in the Senate for the first time since 2000. The difference between modest gains (a few seats in the Senate and fewer than 10 in the House) and significant gains (half a dozen in the Senate and well more than a dozen in the House) is where the battle for control of Congress will be fought.
Republicans currently control the House 231-201. The Democrats need to pick up just 15 seats to capture control. According to the Post, there are currently at least 25 competitive races and perhaps as many as 40. Indiana's two southern Indiana districts figure big in the equation for Democrats as the Post calls it:
Indiana is another place to watch as Republican Reps. Michael E. Sodrel and John N. Hostettler both face extremely competitive Democratic challenges in districts that favor GOPers on the presidential level. Sodrel faces a rematch against Baron Hill (D), the incumbent he narrowly ousted in 2004. Hostettler -- who makes little effort to raise money and forswears political consultants in favor of a local network of conservative activists -- is being challenged by Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth (D).