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VIDEO: Inside the Boiler Room: Can Dems take back House, hold Senate?

With the 2012 race in full swing, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss if the Republicans will be able to keep control of the House and take back the Senate.

The White House isn't the only thing at stake on Election Night 2012.

Control of the House and Senate also hang in the balance, impacting the eventual president's ability to govern. It could be split government or even a three-chamber sweep for Republicans.

Video and transcript by NBC's Morgan Parmet.


MARK MURRAY: Welcome to the latest addition of Inside the Boiler Room. I'm Mark Murray, joined by my colleague, Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, we got a question from Candice who asks, "What are the chances the Republicans retain the House and what seats are up for grabs that would allow the Republicans to take over the senate too?

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well one of the things we certainly love talking about: A little down ballot. So let's get to it here. The question here is can Democrats take back the House? Can Republicans retain the House?

You know a lot of people think that's probably not likely. It's probably the case because of redistricting and where things stand now that Democrats pick up high single digits is what a lot of people are looking at as something and they need about 25 seats


DOMENICO MONTANARO: So, it's not likely that they take back the House. The Senate, however, is going to be hotly watched. Closely watched. The thing to watch on election night because what  we see right now, here's the field of play: Republicans will need three seats; will need to flip three seats, if President Obama loses.

If a Republican becomes President, they'll need three seats. If President Obama wins, they'll need four to take back the house. If you look through the field, let's go down the map. You've got North Dakota and Nebraska. Two right now you probably put in the Republican column. Then you also look at some Toss Ups like Missouri, Montana, and those two states a lot closer but maybe nudging, nudging, leaning towards Republicans. That's four.

But when we look at the other side of this, Democrats, you know, holding Virginia. Looks like a 50-50 race right now between Tim Kaine and George Allen, but also Nevada and Massachusetts are two targets that Democrats actually have. You know, the question between those three states, between Nevada, Virginia, and Massachusetts, as you've said, it seems if somebody wins two of those three, then we'll see who’s in control of the Senate.

MARK MURRAY: That is the one thing to look at. Whoever wins two of the three in Nevada, Virginia and Massachusetts will probably end up controlling the senate. Domenico, if Democrats are able to win all three and President Obama wins re-election, that's how they end up holding on to control of the Senate.

As for those House races again. The magic number is right. Democrats have to pick up 25 to take over the house. A lot of the very smart political analysts of the world, the Charlie Cooks, the Stu Rothenbergs, have looked back, that even when an incumbent President wins in a landslide fashion for re-election, that often that hasn't had a big down ballot effect. When Bill Clinton won in 1996, Democrats didn't win a whole bunch of House races. When George W. Bush won in 2004 even though it was contested, there wasn't a big down ballot effect.

So this is some of the reasoning why you might end up only having 10 or 15 House races switch hands. On the other hand, Democrats have to be feeling really good right now. When you look at polls, generic ballots are showing that things are starting to return a little bit more to 2008 from than they were 2010 when Republicans had that sweep in the House race.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yeah, and the Down Ballot effect is really important when you think about the Senate races especially in Nevada and Massachusetts because Massachusetts is obviously a state where Democrats are going to do well. In a Presidential election, it's one of the strongest Democratic or liberal states, but the question is going to be whether or not Scott Brown can convince voters who are going to vote for President Obama to also vote for him. That's, you know, can be a tall order, but he's done a lot of the things to move himself in a more moderate direction. Certainly irritating a lot of his tea party support when he had come in taking over what had been Ted Kennedy's seat.

In Nevada, if President Obama wins in Nevada, which he has done well with Hispanic voters. Did well there in 2008, then the question becomes will those same people who vote for President Obama also vote for Dean Heller. That's going to be an interesting thing to watch.

MARK MURRAY: Yeah, it really is. And it's just one of those things that we are going to be watching on election night. In addition to that, Presidential contest and all those battle ground states. Paying attention to the House, Senate, and also the Governor’s race.