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U.S. midterms: Who stands to win and lose?

By Simon Hooper for CNN
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(CNN) -- Who stands to win and lose from the November 7 midterm elections?

George W. Bush

The presidency may not be up for grabs, but Tuesday's results are likely to have a big impact on Bush's final two-and-a-bit years in office. Bush has enjoyed rare dominance in Congress since 2002 -- a fact that makes his current dismal approval ratings look even worse. With the Democrats on course, if the polls are to be believed, to take control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate as well, they could make his final few months in office very uncomfortable.

Nancy Pelosi

If the House of Representatives falls to the Democrats on a 15-seat swing, as most analysts expect, Pelosi would become the first woman ever to be elected speaker -- third in line to the presidency. The 66-year-old hails from her party's liberal flank and is an outspoken critic of Bush, calling the President "incompetent" over Iraq, and would like ensure a difficult end to the Bush years.

Hillary Clinton

The former first lady is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential race and re-election as a senator for New York is only likely to fuel her ambition to follow her husband into the Oval Office. But both Clintons remain divisive figures and a surge of support for the Democrats could give momentum to other candidates carrying less baggage, such as ...

Barack Obama

The photogenic young senator from Illinois is only two years into his first term and could be just the sort of candidate to benefit from a political swing towards the Democrats. A poll this month put Obama second only to Clinton on a poll of potential 2008 contenders. Having previously said he wouldn't run for either the presidency or the vice-presidency Obama admitted in October he was re-considering.

John Kerry

The veteran senator from Massachusetts, who ran Bush close in the 2004 presidential contest, looks to have terminally damaged his chances of running again after last week's gaffe when he told students in California to study hard or face getting "stuck in Iraq."

Condoleezza Rice

With Vice-President Dick Cheney ruled out by ill-health, Secretary of State Rice has been talked about as the current administration's best contender for 2008 and as a possible Republican answer to the "Hillary factor". Were Rice to win such a contest, she would become both the first woman and the first African-American to be elected president. But Rice has said consistently that she won't run for office in 2008 and, given her closeness to Bush, Tuesday's election results -- barring surprises -- are unlikely to persuade her otherwise.

John McCain

Widespread Democratic gains on Tuesday would only enhance McCain's burgeoning standing as the most likely Republican presidential contender for 2008. The Senator from Arizona, beaten by Bush in the 2000 primaries, has been a consistently tough and independent critic of presidential policy, which ought to reap him a lot of credibility over some of his rivals for the nomination.

Iraq

Whatever Tuesday's political outcome, there seems little prospect of an imminent change of strategy in Iraq. Though Bush has admitted he shares the dissatisfaction of many Americans with the ongoing insurgency campaign and says U.S. tactics are adapting to the changing circumstances, he has resisted calls to set out a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. But Democrats are also divided over future strategy. Most likely, both parties will wait for the conclusions of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group later this year.

Tony Blair

The British Prime Minister's uncritical and increasingly unpopular alliance with George W. Bush has been a cornerstone of his country's foreign policy over the last five years and Blair has paid the price at home. Though Blair himself has said he will step down over the next few months, an American backlash against Bush at the polls would likely only increase calls for him to go sooner rather than later and further discredit his legacy.

Kim Jong Il

The North Korean regime did the Bush administration no favors by testing a nuclear weapon last month. The possible existence of a North Korean bomb has done real damage to Bush's claims to have made the world safer since 9/11. But Pyongyang's subsequent decision to return to six-party talks, following direct discussions between U.S. envoy Christopher Hill and North Korean officials, could be an indication of a more conciliatory mood on both sides. A change of tone in Washington -- under the Clinton administration the U.S. agreed to help North Korea build nuclear energy plants if it abandoned its weapons program -- could further encourage Kim to follow policies of detente rather than destruction.


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Nancy Pelosi stands to become Congress' first ever female speaker if the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.

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