Alex and the panel took a short break from the presidential race to take a closer look at some of the more interesting down-ballot contests that could determine which party holds the majority in the 113th Congress. The "Sage of Capitol Hill" Luke Russert lent his expertise to the discussion, explaining that while President Obama will no doubt help down-ballot Democrats in blue states like Connecticut and Massachusetts, many other Senate races -- as well as the majority of House races -- will be fought and won based on local issues unrelated to the goings-on at the top of the ticket.
The Cook Political Report currently forecasts the House of Representatives staying in Republican hands, though the GOP's current 25-seat advantage may be culled by 1-10 seats. A Republican takeover in the Senate -- seen as inevitable earlier in the cycle due to the political climate and the sheer number of Democrats (23) being forced to defend their seats compared to Republicans (10) -- is no longer a sure thing, though Cook still expects the GOP to pick up 2-4 seats.
Whether it's two, three or four is crucial. If it's two, Harry Reid returns as majority leader. If it's four, he will be forced to hand the Senate gavel over to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. But a three-seat gain will result in a 50-50 tie in the Senate under which the Vice President -- be it Joe Biden or Paul Ryan -- will cast the deciding vote. If that's the case, the presidential contest could prove even more critical than anyone expected.