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Predictions and expectations

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The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has updated its ratings, calling 12 GOP-held seats more vulnerable now than they had been, including moving eight seats to the toss-up column.

"In the House, GOP strategists privately concede that a half-dozen to 10 seats are already lost," Roll Call reports.  "But they say the other competitive two- to three-dozen races are close - even closer than publicly available polls suggest in some cases.  Democrats, meanwhile, are working to tamp down expectations for the size of the party's gains in the House, saying that if they do pick up the minimum 15 seats needed..., the final tally could be much smaller than is currently being forecast by most public polling and pundits." 

Republicans are putting out word that per early-voting stats, "their voter-turnout machine is providing an edge in some tight races.  If the trend holds, it could mean that early voting is growing -- and continuing to benefit Republicans...  This year, though, Democrats contend that Republicans are exaggerating their successes so far, by highlighting a few races, while ignoring problems they are having in motivating their troops around the country...  Analysts figured that many of those early voters would be affected by the run of bad news the party suffered in September and early October...  But [RNC] political director Mike DuHaime said that concern is likely exaggerated, because the party is focused on turning out a relatively reliable core of supporters."