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Midterm elections: 12 House races to watch to judge size of a GOP 'wave'

Most observers expect Republicans to take over the House of Representatives, but more than 100 races could go either way. The magic number Republicans need to gain to take control: 39. Here are a handful of races to keep an eye on in the states with early-closing polls.

- Staff writer

Mick Mulvaney (l.) and incumbent Rep. John Spratt ran into each other Aug. 28 at Summer Fest in York, S.C. (Newscom)

2. South Carolina's Fifth

The fact that this seat is in play, after 14 terms of representation by John Spratt, is a bad sign for Democrats.

In 2008, Congressman Spratt, a conservative Democrat, won reelection by 25 percentage points. A Republican hasn’t won in this district since 1882. But Spratt’s opponent, Mick Mulvaney, is narrowly favored to win.

The demographics of Spratt’s district have been changing, and he has held on to his seat largely out of loyalty. This year, with the pervasive anti-incumbent sentiment, that seems an uphill battle.

Still, if Spratt does manage to hang onto his seat – or even if he barely loses – it may be a sign that the Democrats are going to have a better night than expected. South Carolina polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern time.