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THE BATTLEFIELDS

California

52 House seats in contention. Delegation now split 26 to 26. Many close races. Democrats could pick up four or five seats, especially if a big win by President Clinton helps Democrats in toss-up contests.

Texas

Chaotic. In August courts remapped 13 House districts and threw out primary results, leaving all candidates in those races and setting up likely December runoffs. House delegation now 18 Democratic to 12 Republican. In the Senate, incumbent Republican Phil Gramm favored to win.

The rest of the South

Long-term trend favors Republicans. Many prominent Democrats retiring. Many competitive races: six in Georgia, four in Mississippi, four in Florida. Some rookie House Republicans in trouble.

Midwest

Populous states with many House seats. Some competitive races in the House: 8 in Illinois; 6 in Ohio, 9 in Michigan. Many interesting Senate races, with Democrats favored in several. Look for Clinton coattails.

New York

With 31 House seats, always an important state. No Senate race this year. Only 5 House races considered close, and one of the closest is Francis Pordum's challenge to Rep. Jack Quinn. Short of surprises, the 17-14 Democratic edge in House seats unlikely to change much.