Analysis: Washington state’s close congressional races could impact balance of power in D.C.

SEATTLE -- With high stakes midterm elections less than two weeks away, Washington state finds itself in an unusual position: Three congressional races in districts long held by Republicans are closer than they've been in quite a while -- which could affect the balance of power in D.C.

We've been hearing a lot about the 8th District race between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Dr. Kim Schrier, but Q13 Political Analyst C.R. Douglas points out two other Washington congressional seats that are also in play: the 3rd District in Southwest Washington and the 5th District on the Eastern border.

In the 5th District, in and around Spokane, incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, got 49 percent of the vote in the August primary. Former state Sen. Lisa Brown, a Democrat, was close behind with 45 percent.

"The rule of thumb is that safe incumbents typically get over 50 percent in a primary, and McMorris Rodgers didn't quite hit that," Douglas says.

Douglas says you can get a sense of just how close the race is if you listen to their heated debates.

Meanwhile, the 3rd District race in the Vancouver area is also tighter than expected.

GOP incumbent U.S. Rep.  Jaime Herrera Beutler got 43 percent of the vote in the primary, falling below that important 50 percent mark.

Her challenger, newcomer Carolyn Long, received 35 percent in the primary.

A poll released earlier this month shows Beutler at 48 percent and Long at 41 percent. The rest are undecided, according to the poll.

That's why more and more people are paying attention, and not just here at home.

Republicans across the country are in the political fight of their lives as they try to hold on to control of the House. The Senate is expected to keep its Republican majority by a slim margin.

Douglas notes that all four candidates in the 3rd and 5th District races are women, a demographic that's expected to play a large role in deciding which party controls Congress after Nov. 6.