Q&A: Five key questions about midterm elections in Congress

Will Republicans take control of the House and Senate? All 435 House seats are up for election every two years. A majority in the House is 218 seats. Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats in the Nov. 2 midterm election to get there. Polls now show the Democrats are in trouble. Why?

Why Republicans might win the House

Tim Cook/AP
Democrat Ike Skelton of Missouri has been in the House for 17 terms. But he's among several senior Democrats facing serious challenges in Congress. Here, he speaks at the commissioning ceremony for the Navy's the U.S.S. Missouri at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.

With two months to go, political handicappers are picking Republicans to narrowly win a House majority and make big gains in the Senate, although not enough to give them control.

Charlie Cook of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report wrote on Tuesday that his race-by-race analysis showed Republicans are poised to gain at least 40 House seats and possibly more.

"The House has reached the tipping point," Cook wrote.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato raised his prediction for Republican gains last week to 47 House seats.

In the Senate, Cook predicts a Republican gain of seven to nine seats. Republicans must retain their own Senate seats and sweep nearly all of the competitive Democratic seats to win control, a difficult task in the 2010 election.

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