July 25, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Is the House Now in Play for the 2012 Elections?

Democratic seats in this category include those held by Reps. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), John Barrow (Ga.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Kathy Hochul (N.Y.), Ben Chandler (Ky.) and Jim Costa (Calif.). It isn’t hard to think of at least a few others that could go onto this list.

Finally, there are the states that have not yet finalized redistricting, leaving huge question marks. Districts that could be affected include those held by Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.), as well as additional seats in New York, Ohio, California and Florida.

So where does this leave us? What’s the bottom line?

On the one hand, Democrats are already competing in enough GOP districts to win the House. I suppose that makes the House technically “in play.”

But that is not the same thing as saying that control of the House is really up for grabs now. Democrats would need a clean sweep of three dozen or so targeted GOP districts to win the barest of majorities, and that’s not at all likely.

So Democrats still have some work to do to improve their prospects for retaking the House, and there are many ways they could do so, from additional recruiting successes to favorable redistricting developments to a weak GOP presidential nominee to a strong shift toward the Democratic Party in the national political landscape.

Any of these things would shift my arithmetic for the House dramatically.

For the moment, however, we shouldn’t confuse the fact that the House might be technically “in play” with the reality that Democrats don’t yet have enough opportunities to win the House next year. At this point, Republicans are still positioned to retain their majority.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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