From New York to New Hampshire, Republican incumbents are threatened by a number of factors, including President Bush's unpopularity and increased Democratic voter registrations.

"This is a wind-in-your face election," said Rep. Tom Reynolds, a Republican who is retiring and leaving a seat in western New York. "Most of the Northeast is blue, and getting bluer."

The one Republican who appears to be bucking the tide is Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who maintains double-digit leads over her Democratic challenger. But in New Hampshire, Republican Sen. John Sununu is fighting off a fierce challenge from former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.


Left-leaning Californians have moved to Reno, Nev., Albuquerque, N.M., and more rural pockets of the West, altering the political landscape. The number of Hispanics in the region has been rising, along with the group's engagement in politics. Hispanics in the region lean Democratic.

Silver Salazar, a supporter of Sen. John McCain and longtime activist in Colorado, said that the Arizona senator will probably not reach Bush's levels of support with Hispanics but argues that McCain will make up those votes with disaffected Democrats.

Winning crossover Democrats, as well as independents, has become a mathematical necessity for McCain.


Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina and Saxby Chambliss in Georgia find themselves in uncomfortably close races for reelection. In Mississippi, Trent Lott's temporary replacement, Republican Roger Wicker, is in a tight race with former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to serve Lott's final four years. Leading to voter confusion, Wicker and Musgrove look alike and have identical positions against abortion and for gun owners' rights.


In the Midwest, the loss of jobs has overwhelmed energy, the war and all other issues.

When an Ohio plumber, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, challenged Sen. Barack Obama over his tax plans and elicited a reference to "spreading the wealth," McCain embraced the man he dubbed Joe the Plumber and appeared with him around Ohio.

"We're all Joe the Plumber," McCain said. McCain aides said he gained a late lift using Joe's story to flay Obama as determined to raise taxes despite the Democrat's promise of a tax cut for 95 percent of workers.

The race in Ohio as well as Indiana remain close. In Michigan, McCain's campaign stopped buying ads weeks ago.

In Nebraska, former Republican Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns remains in a comfortable lead over Democratic Senate candidate Scott Kleeb. They are vying to replace GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, who is retiring.