Oddly drawn congressional districts filled with heavily skewed majorities of Democrats and Republicans have taken a lot of the competition out of congressional general elections, but there are still a few competitive races out there. From a race between an anti-food stamp crusader Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., and the daughter of a former Florida governor and senator, to a battle between three-decade lawmaker Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Democrat-turned Republican Evan Jenkins, a state senator in West Virginia, the days of the nail biting congressional races aren't quite over yet.
Here are three close races to watch in 2014.
Colorado's 6th District
It's one of the most gelled races heading into 2014 with few undecided voters, and an equally divided electorate.
The showdown between Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Andrew Romanoff is expected to play out in a demographically evolving district that once leaned Republican when Coffman was first elected in 2008, but because of a new wave of Latino constituents moving to the Denver suburb, is swaying in the Democrats' favor. President Barack Obama swept the district by 5 points in the 2012 election.
The rapid evolution of his district has forced Coffman to reevaluate his positions. The congressman entered the House of Representatives and pushed for legislation to nullify a requirement that polling stations provide ballots in more than just English. This year, however, Coffman stepped out and advocated for an immigration overhaul that would provide some kind of legal status for immigrants who entered the country illegally.
The two candidates have deep pockets with Coffman and Romanoff raising $1.6 million and $1.5 million respectively as of September 2013, and there is plenty of outside help.
With so much at stake, the race is expected to be about national issues with Republicans and Democrats both keeping a pulse on the fight. Already, conservative group Americans for Prosperity targeted the district with an ad thanking Coffman for voting against the Affordable Care Act, which has made headlines after the Obamacare website has been plagued with technical malfunctions.
Pundits argue the district will come down to how many voters head to the polls in November 2014, with lower turnout boosting Coffman and a higher turnout helping Romanoff get to Washington.
West Virginia's 3rd District
It used to be a Democratic stronghold, but after more than 30 years, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., may face his toughest reelection yet. Rahall is the last Democratic congressman standing in West Virginia, forcing him to walk a fine line as a Democrat from West Virginia's coal country. Rahall has worked hard to keep himself from being tied to the Obama administration's environmental agenda, which seeks to curb greenhouse gas emissions and more strictly regulate coal. He has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association and strong opposition to abortion rights, but that may not be enough as he competes in 2014.
Mitt Romney won the district by 30 percentage points in 2012 and Republicans have their eye on kicking Rahall out.
Rahall's challenger is Evan Jenkins, a state senator and former Democrat who announced he was switching parties in July. Jenkins outraised Rahall in the third quarter of fundraising and still has deep ties with area lawmakers.
The Cook Political Report, a congressional watchdog, categorized the race as a toss up Friday weeks after the Obama administration announced a new round of Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would affect the coal industry.
"Rahall won't have President Obama to contend with on the ballot next year," Cook said in an analysis on the race. "But the administration's decision to move forward with new energy regulations ensure[s] the prevalence of the EPA in this race."
Florida's 2nd District
Swampy Tallahassee is in for a congressional race dripping with intrigue as GOP Rep. Steve Southerland goes head-to-head with Gwen Graham in 2014. Graham, a public school administrator and daughter of former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham, is hoping Southerland's conservative record wins her the support of moderate Republicans and independents. Florida's second district is split between the inland counties, which includes a high population of black voters and leans in favor of Democrats, and the rural areas stretching along the beach, where Republicans have an advantage.
According to the National Journal's Almanac of American Politics, the rural areas "outvote" the more populous counties giving the GOP the edge.
But Southerland isn't known as a moderate Republicans around the halls of Congress.
The congressman has crusaded to add a work requirement to the food stamp program. More recently, he voted against a compromise bill to end the government shutdown, which Democratic House Majority PAC wasted no time in criticizing. In the Democrats' first shutdown related attack ad, House Majority PAC launched a two-week, $70,000 ad buy calling Southerland out for his vote and for referring to his $174,000 congressional salary as "not that much."
Raising the stakes, Graham outraised Southerland in the third fundraising quarter $453,111 to $252,792.
But Southerland is comfortable with his positions. Elected in 2010 with 86 fellow Republicans, Southerland has said he would do anything he could to stop the president's health care law.
"The Senate rejected nearly every House-passed bill to fund essential services and keep the government open, it became clear to me that some in Washington were more interested in scoring political points than finding real solutions," Southerland said in a statement following his vote. "I had no choice but to oppose Senator Reid's bill because it provides short term spending without addressing the long term drivers of this shutdown, including an exploding national debt and glaring inequalities under the President's health care law."