(CBS News) Just because it's a presidential election year, and most of the focus is on President Obama and Mitt Romney, doesn't mean there aren't a slew of other important races all across the country. Case in point: there are 435 races for the U.S. House, in every congressional district across the country that will determine whether Republicans will maintain control of the House. Democrats must pick up a net gain of 25 seats to take back control from Republicans, which many political observers say is a possibility, but definitely very challenging.
CBSNews.com has highlighted 8 races - four incumbent Republicans and four incumbent Democrats - that could be key to who controls the House for the next two years.
CA-52: Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray v. Scott Peters
The district's boundaries have been redrawn to include the San Diego suburbs and downtown San Diego and, in turn, making the district more Democratic. For incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican who has held his congressional seat in the 50th district since 2006, and was also a member of Congress between 1995 and 2001, the district is more of a challenge for him with the new borders and with a change of demographics, including an influx of Hispanics, who tend to vote Democratic.
"Bilbray's problem is the remap," said Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "Democrats probably have the advantage."
"The only advantage we have is we have an incumbent with a strong name ID," said Paul Lindsey, communications director for the National Republican Communication Committee, the party organization that helps House Republican campaigns.
In an election where turnout is expected to dictate this race, it is one of the must-win seats for Democrats if they want to take back the House of Representatives. Both parties understand that, as both House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and House Speaker John Boehner have visited the district to raise money for their respective candidates.
Bilbray's challenger is Scott Peters, a former San Diego city council member and current Port Commissioner. Republicans are attempting to frame Peters as a scandal-plagued politician, tying him to a six-year-old public pension scandal.
Democrats, meanwhile, say Bilbray is a career politician who profited from a stint as a lobbyist.