Image: U.S. flag surrounded by floating cash © Deborah Harrison, Getty Images

Call them five uneasy pieces.

This year there are five important races investors need to watch.

Who wins and who loses will go a long way toward determining how Wall Street will be regulated, how the Federal Reserve will set policy, and what the tax burden will be for those who depend on trading or investment income.

The Massachusetts Senate race

This is the biggie.

The Bay State showdown -- between incumbent Republican Scott Brown, one of the brightest new stars of the Republican Party, and Elizabeth Warren, the firebrand bailout watchdog who championed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- has been the only race where Wall Street reform efforts have been a front-and-center issue.

Like Mitt Romney, Brown has been casting himself as a middle-of-the-road politician and trying to paint Warren as too liberal. Warren supporters have been claiming the mantle of the late Ted Kennedy, whose seat Brown took in a 2010 special election. Warren has hammered Brown on his efforts to stop parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, especially the Volcker Rule's limits on bank trading, private equity and hedge-fund activities. If Warren is elected, expect her to get a seat on the Senate Banking Committee.

The bottom line: A Warren victory would signal that an anti-Wall Street campaign can be effective and could be viewed as a mandate for Warren to continue pestering banks.

RealClearPolitics poll average: Warren up by 4.5 points

Momentum: Warren

Texas' 14th Congressional District

Ron Paul announced in 2011 he would not seek re-election to the House, presumably leaving the district to the next Republican in line.

But Republican Randy Weber, who said following Paul was "kind of like being coach after Bear Bryant," hasn't been the shoo-in many predicted despite an endorsement from the man himself (Paul, not the legendary Alabama football coach).

Democrat Nick Lampson, a former congressman who represented part of the 14th before redistricting, has made this race closer than expected. Democrats have targeted Texas’ 14th as a "red-to-blue" race.

The campaign has gone increasingly negative, with each candidate accusing the other of promoting policies that sent jobs overseas. What hasn't come up is Paul's pet issue: the Fed. That doesn't mean monetary policy isn't a concern. Lampson voted against raising the debt limit. Weber has aligned himself with Ted Cruz, a Republican nominee for an open Texas U.S. Senate and Tea Party favorite. Still, if Weber loses, it wouldn't be a huge blow to Paul, who was snubbed at the party's national convention.

The bottom line: A loss by Weber would be more evidence that Paul's influence either has been overstated or has diminished significantly.

Election Projection data: Weber up by 3 points.

Momentum: Lampson

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