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.

9. South Dakota's First

Doug Dreyer/AP/File, Andy Sullivan/Reuters
South Dakota Democratic incumbent Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (l.) and GOP challenger Kristi Noem, called the 'Sarah Palin of South Dakota.'

South Dakota’s at-large district is emblematic of the problems that so many Democrats – even moderate ones – in conservative districts are facing this election, and why so many of them look likely to lose.

Democratic incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has been a leader with the Blue Dog Democrats and has a fairly conservative voting record, voting against health-care reform and other Obama administration bills. But she’s in trouble, and her opponent, Kristi Noem – the “Sarah Palin of South Dakota,” a farmer and a state representative – seems poised to win.

The election is still a toss-up according to many pollsters, and its outcome will be a good indication of how Democrats may fare in the many similar races around the country.

South Dakota polls close at 8 p.m.

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