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Five Things to Watch in Tuesday’s Voting Contests

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Voters will head to the polls in six states on Tuesday, but one state -- Wisconsin -- reigns supreme in garnering national attention.  The Badger State holds its highly anticipated recall election in which embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker faces off against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

In addition to the recall election, five states -- California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota -- hold state and presidential primaries.

Here are the five things to watch when the polls close Tuesday evening.

1. Wisconsin Recall

Arguably the biggest event on the political calendar between now and November, Wisconsin’s election to recall Gov. Scott Walker has been a hard-fought and expensive race. More than $60 million has been spent before Tuesday’s recall vote, which many view as a barometer of what might happen in the general election.

The election has been more than a year in the making, with the groundwork laid in the winter of 2011, when Walker, 44, proposed and passed legislation limiting collective bargaining rights for many public sector employees, infuriating labor unions across Wisconsin and the country.

Turnout is expected to be high.  The state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees statewide elections, predicts a 60 to 65 percent turnout among the voting-age population -- an increase from the 2010 election when Walker and Barrett faced off the first time for governor.  Roughly 50 percent of the voting-age population turned out for that race.

Polls show Walker in the lead over Barrett, but it’s close. Both parties maintain that it all comes down to turnout.

2. Wisconsin State Senate

In addition to the governorship, Democrats are hoping to flip control of Wisconsin’s state Senate on Tuesday.

Walker is not the only incumbent on the ballot.  Four Republican state senators also face recall, plus Walker’s Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.  Wisconsin’s 33-member Senate is evenly split, with 16 representatives from both parties and one vacancy.  The results of Tuesday’s election will likely flip control to one party. Several Wisconsin state senators have already faced recall elections, and two Republicans have lost their seats.

3. California’s Big Congressional Change

A redistricted congressional map is expected to yield a sizable change in California’s 53-member congressional delegation.  For the first time in the state’s history, the Bear Republic’s map was drawn not by the legislature but by a nonpartisan, redistricting commission.  The result is a map that looks very different from the one preceding it.  Six members are retiring -- four Republicans and two Democrats.

The congressional primaries are “top two” primaries. The top two finishers on the ballot will face off in the general election, regardless of their party affiliation, which means that heavily Democratic districts will likely see Democrat vs. Democrat in November, and vice-versa for traditionally Republican districts.

4. Obama vs. Clinton in New Jersey House Race

Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman are fighting for their political lives in New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District, where redistricting has redrawn the map for both Democrats.

Rothman endorsed Obama in 2008, and while Obama has not publicly endorsed Rothman, he did meet with him privately at the White House last week.

Pascrell endorsed Hillary Clinton, and this cycle Bill Clinton has returned the favor, endorsing Pascrell and campaigning on his behalf.

5.  Cigarette Tax Proposal

California is associated in the cultural zeitgeist as a land of healthy living, but the state hasn’t raised its cigarette tax in more than a decade.  That could change on Tuesday as voters cast ballots on Proposition 29, a statewide initiative to add a $1 a pack tax to cigarettes, the proceeds of which would go to fund cancer research.

The referendum has drawn a great deal of attention in the state -- $47 million has been spent in advertisements.  Some of the major criticism of the referendum has been aimed at the ultimate source for the proceeds.  California faces a multi-billion dollar deficit, and opponents of the law have questioned the logic behind adding a new tax that would ultimately go to funding research as opposed to closing some of that deficit.

Polling shows a narrow majority of support for the measure, but the outcome is anyone’s guess.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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