House Democrats have one goal, and only one goal, when it comes to Nov. 2: Hold on to a bare majority.
Democrats have long acknowledged the challenges they face this fall. But with the economy still teetering and voters unhappy with Democratic leadership, many are privately conceding that the best Democrats can hope for may be razor-thin hold on the chamber.
At the end of the day, all that matters is whether we control the majority ... thats the only thing that matters, and we have to set up an environment where our ultimate objective maintaining the majority is met, said a Democratic leadership aide, who acknowledged that the party faces a very, very tough in many cases brutal election.
So even as Democrats try to take broad swipes at the GOP and argue that Republican control would equal a return to failed policies of the past, they are also doubling down on a strategy of trying to localize and prioritize competitive races. They are hopeful that their cash advantage and a superior ground game will help them win enough contests to keep the majority.
The overwhelming amount of resources will be spent between Labor Day and Nov. 2, and that will provide an opportunity to clearly frame the choices in each of these races, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen said. The celebration on the Republican side is premature.
The Maryland Democrat, in his second tour as DCCC chairman, said the partys candidates are drawing contrasts with their Republican opponents, adding, There will be a lot of variations on that theme, and they will be individualized in the different races.
In the coming weeks, Van Hollen said the DCCC would concentrate money and resources in races the tightest races, although he downplayed the notion that the strategy was a response to the grim outlook for Democrats this cycle.
Well be making decisions based on hard data and polling information it only makes sense to invest where you can win. And it does not make sense to put in extra money to win in a landslide, nor does it make sense to invest in something that clearly isnt going to happen, Van Hollen said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ramped up the pressure last week on Members of her own Caucus who have been delinquent in paying dues to the DCCC. In a letter sent to House Democrats, Pelosi acknowledged that the party is facing its toughest election since 1994. With ten weeks until Election Day, we need to know your commitment to maintaining a strong Democratic Majority, Pelosi wrote.
The missive, co-signed by other members of the House Democratic leadership, noted that the National Republican Congressional Committee outpaced the DCCC in fundraising last month largely because GOP lawmakers contributed nearly twice as much in dues as their Democratic counterparts.
Pelosi also urged Members to encourage donors who have contributed the maximum allowable amount to an individual campaign to now give to the DCCC.
Meanwhile, the national environment has grown increasingly toxic for the majority party. Earlier this year, it seemed improbable that the Republican wave could be strong enough to overcome Democrats 39-seat advantage, but now that appears possible and, in some pundits eyes, likely.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.