WASHINGTON, May 19 ? For months, even in the face of an avalanche of bad news for Republicans, Democratic ambitions for capturing Congress have collided with an electoral map created to protect Republicans from ouster. Despite polls showing rising support for Democrats and scorn for Republicans, analysts have said Democratic hopes for big gains remain remote, because so few seats are in contention.
That appears to be changing.
Over the past week, a handful of once-safe Republican Congressional seats have come into play, and other Republican incumbents are facing increasingly stiff re-election battles, according to analysts, pollsters and officials in both parties. The change amounts to a slight but significant shift in the playing field, and a potentially pivotal change in the dynamics of this midterm election.
In a Republican primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Representative Don Sherwood drew 56 percent of the vote against a little-known challenger, a display of weakness in a race that both parties now see as being in play.