The races to watch on where the election is headed - America

The races to watch on where the election is headed

With so many races – not to mention control of the House and Senate – in the balance, it is hard to know where to look on election night.

That’s where the Fix comes in. Below you’ll find an hour-by-hour guide to the races that will serve as leading indicators of where the election is headed. Think of it as a viewer’s guide for Tuesday night. (Look for an expanded version of the guide in the online Fix in the morning.)

7 p.m.: Indiana/Kentucky

There are three House races in the Hoosier State that will tell us what kind of night it will be for Democrats. The 8th District open seat is a certain pickup for Republicans, and the 9th District fight between Rep. Baron Hill (D) and lawyer Todd Young (R) is a jump ball. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is favored in the South Bend-based 2nd District. If Democrats lose just one of those three, they can hold the House. Lose two and their majority is probably gone. Lose all three, and Republicans will gain upward of 60 seats. In Kentucky, Republicans are spending money on semi-longshot challenger Andy Barr in the 6th District race against Rep. Ben Chandler (D). If Chandler loses, Republicans could well make a historic number of pickups. Meanwhile, in the Senate race, if state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) can defeat ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R), it would be a major upset for Democrats.

7:30 p.m.: Ohio/West Virginia

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is in deep political peril in his race against former Rep. John Kasich (R). The White House would love to see Strickland win because controlling the governor’s mansion in a state likely to be very competitive in 2012 could give President Obama a leg up. In West Virginia, popular Gov. Joe Manchin (D) appears to have stabilized his bid for the state’s open Senate seat. But, Obama and the national Democratic Party are very unpopular in the Mountain State, and that could drag wealthy businessman John Raese (R) across the finish line.

8 p.m.: Florida

The marquee governor’s race of the night is between state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) and former health-care executive Rick Scott (R). Both parties have dumped scads of money into the state, and Democrats see this outcome as crucial to their entire night. Also keep an eye on the South Florida 25th District open-seat race, a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup.