Folks at the National Republican Congressional Committee are having a good laugh over this…
IN NOVEMBER 2010, THE DCCC SAID IT WAS TARGETING 61 DISTRICTS CARRIED BY OBAMA: “The DCCC has identified 61 seats currently held by Republicans in districts that Barack Obama won in 2008. ‘Republicans won a lot of seats they have no business winning,’ said a top Democratic strategist. ‘It’s going to be a full-on recruitment cycle [and] Israel is the perfect person for that.’” (Brian Beutler, “Blue Dogged: Meet Steve Israel, The Incoming Chair Of The DCCC,” Talking Points Memo, 11/23/10)
EARLIER THIS MONTH, THEY SCALED THAT BACK TO 37 SUBURBAN DISTRICTS: “Representative Nancy Pelosi’s selection of Mr. Israel to lead the Congressional campaign had much to do with his district, a swath of Nassau and Suffolk Counties where Democrats hold a modest registration edge but independents decide elections. The path to retaking the House, both say, leads through 37 similar suburban districts, home to nine million independents who voted for President Obama in 2008 but deserted the party in the 2010 elections.” (David M. Halbfinger, “L.I. Congressman Leads Uphill Charge Toward a Democratic House,” New York Times, 03/19/11)
NOW, THE DCCC HAS BEEN FORCED TO FOCUS ON ONLY 14 DISTRICTS: “The Democratic Party is taking aim at 14 freshmen Republicans in the House, of 87 elected, whom it deems the most vulnerable…the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is focusing on districts where Mr. Obama and Senator John Kerry both won as presidential nominees and where Democrats have a registration advantage.” (Jennifer Steinhauer, “Hardly Settled in House, but Already in Hot Seat,” New York Times, 03/27/11)
ACTUALLY, THEY EVEN GOT THAT NUMBER WRONG. IT’S 13 DISTRICTS WON BY KERRY, NOT 14: “All told, 63 Republicans in the 112th Congress will hold seats that President Obama carried in 2008 and, of that group, 13 will hold seats that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) also won in the 2004 presidential race.” (Chris Cillizza, “The Obama Republicans,” The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog, 11/11/10)
Of course, we have very little sense of the political environment of 2012, and how it will affect the 435 House races. The more recent and drastically reduced target lists of the DCCC might be selling themselves short. Certain members of the public might decide that they like budget cuts in the abstract but recoil when they’re actually enacted; the GOP presidential candidate may run particularly strong in some parts of the country and particularly weak in others. Then, of course, there’s redistricting, and we don’t know how many incumbents will retire. Each party still has a lot of recruiting to do.
But it’s pretty remarkable that we’re not hearing much talk about Democrats retaking the House in 2012.