With the election a mere two weeks away, it would probably take a party-wide Republican scandal of Nixonian proportions to keep next year’s House in Democratic hands.
All major election handicappers are projecting that the GOP will gain control of the House in November, and some have even expanded the number of winnable seats for the party, a sign that there is little Democratic candidates can do other than pull down the sails and try to hold on for the storm.
First, the quick numbers:
Republicans need to net 39 seats to gain control.
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics estimates the GOP will take 45 seats.
Nate Silver of the New York Times puts the number at 47, which would give the Republicans 227 House seats.
An estimate that seems conservative given the predictions of his peers, Charlie Cook gives the Republicans “at least 40 seats.”
While a Republican victory in the House seems to be conventional wisdom in Washington, the real story here is the money behind that possible victory. In the third quarter this year, about 40 Republican challengers have outraised the Democratic incumbents in the same district, Politico reported. The National Republican Campaign Committee raised more than $11 million in September alone and the independent conservative advocacy group American Crossroads raised $13 million dollars…last week.
That’s not to say the Democrats are cash strapped by any means. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is boasting more than $41 million in cash on hand, twice as much as their Republican counterpart.
The problem is that they have to spread that money out to places that have not needed extra help from the party in years.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the rate at which Republicans are pulling ahead has left Democrats scrambling to restructure the party’s campaign strategy. The party has abandoned 12 House seats it once thought competitive, choosing to put the money in races that appear more salvageable.
All the talk of winning the House appears to be giving Republicans ideas about taking out long-held Democratic strongholds that haven’t elected one of their own in decades. With the release of a few recent polls that show House fixtures like Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and Michigan Rep. John Dingell in closer races than ever before, some partisans are probably a little ahead of themselves in thinking those coveted seats are within reach.
In the case of Frank and challenger Sean Bielat, their personal polls are nowhere near each other. Frank’s poll puts him 24 points ahead; Bielet’s poll shows him to be within ten. Even if you put it somewhere in the middle, the seat still leans heavily toward Frank.
“Polls with an explicit partisan affiliation are on average about 6 points friendlier to their candidate than those conducted by independent groups,” said Silver in a recent post on the Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog. “Our focus, instead, remains on the big picture — and that picture is scary enough for Democrats.”