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Tags: house | republican | democrat | seats

Salena Zito: The House Isn't Going To Flip Blue Anytime Soon

Salena Zito: The House Isn't Going To Flip Blue Anytime Soon

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., center, greets voters at an event in Maitland, Fla. Mica is seeking a 13th term in Congress from central Florida, but it’s not an easy path. The veteran Republican tells supporters turnout is critical. And he offers them this advice about his re-election contest: "Don’t let it get caught up in any of the other races or issues." (AP Photo/John Raoux)

By    |   Tuesday, 25 October 2016 07:13 AM EDT

Democrats are licking their chops at the idea that Donald J. Trump's slide in the polls will enable them to reverse the House Republicans' largest majority in nearly 100 years.

To flip the 30 seats they need to get that majority would require a wave election similar to the Democrats' sweep of the House in 2006 or the Republicans counter-wave in 2010. Is the race for control of the House over?

No—but Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball" at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, thinks Republicans should still worry about poor turnout that could cause some upsets on Election Day.

"At this point, the Democrats winning the House would be a considerable surprise, and we've only got two weeks to go," Kondik said.

To date, there is no sign a political wave of any magnitude is building; in all likelihood, the best-case scenario would be that Democrats win 10 to 15 seats, leaving Republicans with a slimmer majority to work with a probable Hillary Clinton administration.

"With two weeks to go, the Republicans still are clearly favored to hold the House," said Kondik.

One telling indicator for him is that Republicans seem to be holding the line in many of their most vulnerable districts: "While I think both are less than 50-50 to win, the fact that Reps. Cresent Hardy (R, NV-4) and Rod Blum (R, IA-1) – two accidental 2014 winners who seemed like sure losers this time around -- are still in the game is a testament to the relatively static nature of the battle for the House."

Democrats have expanded the battlefield. Yet, not enough seats seem truly in play to suggest they have much of a chance to flip the 30 they need to control the House.

The problem for the Democrats is that they did not invest in recruiting solid candidates.

Had they recreated their 2006 mid-term election strategy of picking moderate Democrats who could run on pocket-book issues in swing districts, they could be looking at their own slim majority come January.

In 2006 then-DCCC chairman Rahm Emmanuel and DNC chairman Howard Dean, despite their personal differences, effectively picked moderate Democratic candidates, ran fairly conservative campaigns, invested heavily in farm-radio ads and folksy television spots, and beat back a 12-year Republican majority.

This year their candidates are weak or re-treads; their messages are essentially cookie-cutter progressive ads that are not appealing to Democratic voters in the country's interior.

And, House Republicans have a built-in advantage: Under current congressional district lines, Mitt Romney carried 224 House districts to Barack Obama's 211, despite losing the presidential election by four points nationally.

"Republicans controlled redistricting in many more states than Democrats did after the 2010 census, and even mid-decade remaps in Florida and Virginia are unlikely to allow Democrats to take control of those state delegations," said Kondik.

Even in Virginia, an upset is a longshot.

Democrats once were able to win several congressional seats in conservative territory, like Appalachia and the Deep South. Those seats are now almost all Republican, outside of cities and majority-minority areas, so Democrats must play offense in suburban swing districts that generally lean a little Republican.

Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District in Bucks County, and Virginia's 10th District in the Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun counties area, are good examples of that, said Kondik.

In addition to typically electing Republicans, such districts are covered by more expensive media markets.

"So it's a lot more expensive to compete for, say, VA-10, than it was for Democrats to try to win seats in places like Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Appalachian Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia," he said.

House Democrats had privately calculated that Trump might not have the big drag down-ballot as they wished, because of his appeal to blue-collar Democrats – but then came the report earlier this month of a video on which Trump bragged about aggressively groping women, something he dismissed as "locker-room talk."

Within hours, several GOP candidates renounced their support of Trump, prompting House Speaker Paul Ryan to instruct his House conference members to do what they saw fit electorally in their individual districts.

Despite the Clinton campaign and Democratic support groups smelling blood and looking anew at Republican-held House seats in districts that Obama won in 2012, a GOP bloodbath is highly unlikely.

Ryan has taken his unified party and "Better GOP" message on a 50-city, 17-state barnstorming tour; his second-in-command, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is working just as hard to re-elect Republicans. Both men are building a barrier of campaign money and messaging to retain their majority.

Despite a possibly large Clinton win, Hillary's ability to flip the House seems nearly impossible.

The Democrats' best hope is to gain 20 seats -- and, more likely, it will be a maximum of 15, with the five-seat difference dependent on whether reliable Republican voters decide to send a message by staying home.

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Democrats are licking their chops at the idea that Donald J. Trump's slide in the polls will enable them to reverse the House Republicans' largest majority in nearly 100 years.
house, republican, democrat, seats
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 07:13 AM
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