11 Hot Senate and House Races to Watch This Fall

A few key elections will help determine who controls Congress.

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California Senate

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(David McNew/Getty Images)

Obama 61% | McCain 37%

To date, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has been fortunate in her campaigns to face weak Republican opposition. Not this year. She is facing a wealthy challenger in former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Boxer, who is seeking a fourth term, runs just ahead of her Republican contenders in polls. “At this point, I think the polls are showing that there is more enthusiasm with the Tea Party,” Boxer told attendees at a state Democratic Party convention in mid-April.

John McCain has stumped for Fiorina, who aided his presidential campaign before she was sidelined for making a series of gaffes—including saying that vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lacked the expertise to run a major corporation.

Boxer has some advantages other Democratic incumbents lack. For example, as of June, healthcare reform was more popular in California than in the rest of the country, with nearly half of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for a lawmaker who supported the bill.

Indeed, while Republican fundraising in the state is strong, some election watchers argue that Boxer's situation isn't all that dire. Democrats, they suggest, clearly have an interest in playing up the threat to Boxer to rally their base.

[Track Boxer's campaign contributions]

Next: Colorado Senate

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