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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems’ Daunting 2014 House Landscape Requires Creative Strategy

At Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik has the skinny on “Hard targets” — races for the 25 most vulnerable seats ion the U.S. House of Representatives for 2014:

One needs little more than just fingers and toes to count the number of House members who represent districts won by the other party’s presidential candidate in 2012. As mentioned here previously, just 25 House members — nine Democrats and 16 Republicans — hold such “crossover” districts. Compare that to 2004, when there were 59 such seats, or 2008, when there were 83.
Both Democratic and Republican strategists are going to start with these seats as they try to identify targets for the upcoming campaign, but as is clear from a district-by-district analysis, many of them are not particularly vulnerable.
Although the historical data are incomplete, the 25 crossover seats are probably the fewest number after a presidential election in nearly a century. The group includes some of the longest-serving members of the House, who have established deep roots that have allowed them to fend off challengers and build strong identities in their districts. In many of these districts, the challenging party simply must play a waiting game, hoping for a retirement that creates an open seat contest.

If that landscape isn’t daunting enough, Kondik adds that “the Republicans could lose all their crossover seats and still hold a 218-217 House majority. Democrats need to net a gain of 17 seats to win control of the House next year.” Kondik provides district by district capsule summaries of the current political situation in the 25 House districts. Clearly, Dems are going to need to leverage all of their fund-raising and digital assets to beat the historical patterns and pick up 17 house seats. To check out Crystal Ball’s other excellent resources for monitoring U.S. House races, click here.

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