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Do Democrats Have Reason to be Hopeful in Key Midterm Races?

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Each week until November 2, The Hill and America's Natural Gas Alliance will break down the hotly contested races that could decide who controls the House after this year's midterm elections.

Today on Washington Unplugged, Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill, spoke with CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes about what the results of this week's poll mean for both Republicans and Democrats with midterms less than a month away. The first poll analyzes key races in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

"Basically, Republicans are doing well. There is a wave, a wave is coming November 2, but right now it may not be as big as some are predicting," Cusack said. "In our {polls}, Republicans are winning in 11 of the 12 races; the other they're tied in. But in seven of them, they're within the margin of error."

Does this mean there's a ray of hope for Democrats feeling the heat? According to Cusack, "Democratic incumbents, ones that came in with President Obama in 2008, some of them are in trouble, but some of them, if they can seize a little momentum this month, they could be back in Congress next year."

How did Cusack and fellow staff at The Hill decide which races were the most critical? Cusack told Cordes, "These are pure battleground districts, where Republicans a few years ago represented these districts and now Democrats do, who came in both the waves of 2006 and 2008. These are the districts that will decide whether we're talking about Speaker Nancy Pelosi next year or Speaker John Boehner."

Watch Wednesday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring CQ's Seth Stern on Snyder v. Phelps, Public Citizen's Robert Wiessman on groups donating to campaigns not releasing reports and this week's "Flash Points" with CBS News' Juan Zarate and Bob Orr.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2:00 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.