Tags: Deomcrats | House | retake | steep

Democrats Face Steep Hill to Retake House

Monday, 21 May 2012 11:37 AM

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Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have talked loudly about regaining control of the House in November. But electoral math indicates that’s going to be a very tough task.

The party needs a net gain of 25 seats to oust the GOP from power. That may sound like an attainable, though difficult, goal. But given 10 to 15 likely losses on their own side, Democrats will probably have to win 35 to 40 Republican-held seats to win control, Politico reports.

That’s mighty rough sledding. “It’s tough,” Brian Smoot, a former political director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico. “You look at the races you think you can win in the races that are competitive, and you give yourself a margin of error. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got to win more races than you think you’re going to need.”

If history is any guide, Democrats can probably give up now. The last time a party of the incumbent president won more than 15 seats in a presidential election year came almost 50 years ago, when Democrat Lyndon Johnson routed Republican Barry Goldwater. Democrats scored 36 House seats that year.

And while some Democrats are optimistic about their chances, Republicans may be more accurate in their expectations. House Speaker John Boehner said last month that the Democrats have a one-in-three chance to take back the House. But that was in the context of trying to convince his caucus that it had to work hard to stay in power.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, in a briefing to reporters last week, scoffed at the notion that Democrats will regain a majority, forecasting that the GOP will increase its lead.

To be sure, most Republicans privately admit that the GOP will likely cede some seats — but by no means enough to lose their majority.

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