PENDER: Handicapping the red-blue battle for the state House

Mississippi House races were historically parochial affairs, with shoe leather, kissing babies and yard signs winning the day for candidates.

But 2011 marked a sea change, with state parties, PACs and outside interests pumping in money and bombarding voters with ads and robo-calls.

Expect more of the same this year.

The state Democratic Party and its interests are vowing to take back the House majority and leadership it lost in 2011.

The state Republican Party and its interests are vowing to increase its hold on the House to a supermajority. This would prevent the Democratic minority from being able to block taxing and spending bills that require three-fifths for passage.

While each is mathematically possible, neither is likely to happen. But the stakes are still high.