The trend lines in competitive House and Senate races cannot be cheering to Republicans in these midterm elections. Seats that initially had been colored bright red in the Republican column have turned a paler shade of rose, and contests that first had tilted GOP are now either toss-ups or tinted blue.
But against this daunting backdrop, a few Republican candidates are staying competitive in places where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans. How? By showing an independent streak.
Today, the Monitor looks at three races that explore the challenges of carrying the Republican flag into territory that is definitively Democratic.
• In Maryland, the GOP's Senate candidate is steering clear of parts of the national party's agenda – and winning some African-American voters.
• In New Jersey, the Republican for Senate tries playing the corruption card.
• In California, celebrity is trumping party loyalty in the governor's race now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has recast himself as a moderate.