Aug. 28, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Battle for the House Engages

In 'Seat-by-Seat Slog,' Democrats Appear Poised to Gain Handful of Districts

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The DCCC has been pushing to expand its map, leading DCCC Chairman Steve Israel to remain confident the House is "absolutely in play."

For Democrats and Republicans fighting for control of the House, the official start of the general election begins Wednesday when the final primaries of the cycle are on the books.

The House landscape remains fluid as both parties and their allies strategize and begin to dump millions of dollars into the fall TV ad war that is ramping up post-national party conventions and Labor Day.

Both parties are poised to pick up seats in November, but how many and in what states will be determined by decisions made during the next eight weeks.

Almost halfway through September, this much is clear: A wave election appears highly unlikely. That means Democrats' chances of taking back control of the House remain slim as they fight district by district. But, given the seats in play right now, the minority party appears poised to net a handful of seats.

"It's going to be a very minor seat change, very little change across in the House," GOP pollster Glen Bolger said. "There's no massive movement. ... It's a seat-by-seat fight, and that generally means a low number net seat change."

Bolger said that unlike the partisan wave elections in 2006, 2008 and 2010, this year's November gains would be more on par with the modest net changes in the early part of the past decade, and he predicted "a seat-by-seat slog."

Democrats feel a little better about that path now though than they did a month ago. President Barack Obama's improving poll numbers and a series of events during the past few weeks have given top Democrats hope that this cycle might be better for their House candidates than they thought.

"I think that Democratic candidates and campaigns are showing a lot of promise," Democratic pollster Jef Pollock said, noting a series of recent nonpartisan polls have shown Democrats in swing districts in good shape. "Right now, it doesn't feel like a wave, it feels very individual, so these individual polls matters."

But Republicans push back that the landscape is mostly unchanged.

"I don't think that there have been any encouraging signs on the House of Representatives front for the Democrats in six months," GOP strategist Brad Todd said. "All the data I have seen in 50 districts indicates that Democrats are going to struggle to gain more than a couple of seats."

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