Friday, February 15, 2013

Will Democrats Capture the House Next Year?

Alexander Burns at the liberal website “Politico” reports Democrats are counting on Obama to play an “unprecedented” role in the fight to win the House by keeping the Democrats’ successful 2012 coalition engaged this year.

 From a memo by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel:
In 2012, President Obama was completely focused on his own re-election, as he should have been. But for 2014, he will be able to focus on Congressional races, and he has already made early commitments that are unprecedented and transformational. President Barack Obama has agreed to eight events just in 2013 for House Democrats, with additional support from Vice President Biden and other surrogates. In addition, [Obama for America’s] ground game, which was a vital part of the Obama campaign’s success in 2012, will now be focused on Congress — energizing the critical ‘New American Electorate’ that we need to keep engaged through the 2014 elections.
In preparation for 2014, the DCCC and Democratic-aligned outside groups hope to use 2013 to soften up closely divided and Republican-leaning districts. Israel specifically mentions the outside House Majority PAC (HMP) as a key ally:
Unlike in the 2010 election cycle, where outside spending only existed on one side of the ledger, Democratic allies like HMP have proven themselves to be successful. In the 2012 election cycle, HMP spent over $40 million in 56 races, and they have already released their top target list for 2014.
Conservative James Taranto, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has a response for Democrats predicting any House take-over next year. In a column entitled, “The House of His Dreams,” Taranto writes:
President Obama's . . . State of the Union address reinforced the perception that he has. . . given up on working constructively in a divided government. His supporters will say he is resolute and the Republicans are pigheaded[. A] neutral way of describing it is that the two parties' worldviews are irreconcilable.
Taranto then quotes the New York Times writing, “Obama's broad second-term agenda is . . . what won him re-election. His task now is to turn his widespread public support into a wedge to break Washington's gridlock.” That, to Taranto, means winning the House, to which Taranto responds
If the Democrats win the House next year, it would be a historic first. Never has the president's party taken control of the chamber in a second-term midterm election. . . to win the House in 2014, the Democrats would have to carry districts that not only sent Republicans to the House in 2012 but preferred Romney to Obama. If Obama is betting his presidency on a Democratic House in 2015-16, it's a long shot.
As I wrote here, “Poltico” may be right and Taranto wrong. Democrats have a real shot at winning the House next year.

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