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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Have ‘Real Shot’ at Winning Back House

On the roller-coaster ride to next year’s elections, Carl Hulse’s “House Democrats Bullish on 2012 Prospects” at the New York Times Caucus should lift a few spirits. According to Hulse, Dems have done better than expected in terms of redistricting, retiring the Party’s debt and how Dems are viewed in comparison to the opposition — adding up to a “real shot’ at winning the 25 seats needed to retake the House. Says Steve Israel, head of the DCCC:

“I cannot guarantee anybody that we are going to win 25 or more seats at this point,” Mr. Israel said in an interview with New York Times reporters and editors. “I will sign an affidavit that it is going to be razor close – razor close. And the razor is going to be sharpened or dulled based on the resources, the recruits and the message we have. The House is absolutely, clearly, unequivocally in play, which is a quantum leap from where we were a year ago.”
Mr. Israel and other Democrats say they have benefitted less from anything Democrats have done and more from Republican stewardship of the House in the ongoing conflict with the Democratic Senate and President Obama. He believes that the fight that almost led to a government shutdown in the spring, the extended debt limit standoff and now the payroll tax dispute have produced buyer’s remorse among independent voters and caused Republican poll numbers to plummet.

Further, according to Hulse,

Like the Democrats in 2010 after knocking off so many Republicans in the previous election, Mr. Israel said, Republicans are too deep in Democratic territory and are going to give back many of those seats in a presidential year, when the electorate is much different from the midterm voters who handed Republicans the majority.
He counts nearly 20 districts held by Republicans that were won by John Kerry in the 2004 elections and slightly more than 40 that were won by President Obama in 2008. Mr. Israel said he doesn’t expect to take all of those back. But even winning a substantial number of them would put Democrats within reach of the majority given the likelihood that some current Democratic incumbents will fall.

The clincher for Dems, writes Hulse, may be the Republicans’ support of Rep. Paul Ryan’s highly unpopular plans to “reform” Medicare. The “buyer’s remorse” Republicans rode to victory in 2010 now defines their biggest problem — apart from the likelihood of a “tough sell” presidential nominee.

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