Can the Democrats Retake the House in 2014?

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from NCPA,

The president says his party has a ‘great chance,’ but the numbers don’t bear this out.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama told donors at a California fundraiser that “It would be a whole lot easier to govern if I had Nancy Pelosi as speaker.” A month later at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Chicago, the president went further, saying Democrats have “a great chance of taking back the House.”

At the August congressional break, how do the Democrats’ chances of winning a majority in the House of Representatives stand? With 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats in the House today, Democrats need to pick up a net of 17 seats.

One difficulty for Mr. Obama is that there are few open seats. Ten Republicans and six Democrats have announced they are retiring or running for higher office. All of these 16 seats appear safely in the incumbent party’s hands, making it difficult for either side to make significant gains.

The Cook Political Report now places the number of competitive seats at 36. A team of political analysts headed by University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato also lists 36 seats as tossups or leaning toward one party. The Rothenberg Political Report says 49 are tossups or leaning toward one party. By comparison, more than 100 congressional seats were in play during the 2010 midterms, most of them held by Democrats before the election.

The number of Democratic seats at risk is likely to grow. There are 13 Democrats who won with 52% or less in 2012, all in districts Mr. Obama carried. Without a presidential campaign to help pull them to victory, some of these Democrats could go down.

Things will doubtless change between now and the election. But at this moment, the relative paucity of competitive races points to a midterm where there are likely to be only modest changes in the House, most likely in the GOP’s direction.

To win his majority, Mr. Obama will deploy the get-out-the-vote technologies used so deftly by his presidential campaign last fall.

or Mr. Obama to reach his goal, it will take Republicans shooting themselves—either by grossly overreaching or, more likely, by failing to articulate a positive conservative agenda for jobs, health care and prosperity.

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