Democrats surely will complain that I have not included on this list Republicans such as Andy Barr of Kentucky and Keith Rothfus of Pennsylvania. Each won by about 4 points in 2012, but both defeated a Democratic incumbent in a district carried easily by Mitt Romney. So while both districts could, under the right circumstances, be competitive, 2014 doesn’t look promising.
And while Democrats have opportunities, they also have seats that will need defending.
At least 11 Democratic incumbents start off at risk: Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber, California’s Raul Ruiz, Florida’s Patrick Murphy and Joe Garcia, Georgia’s John Barrow, Massachusetts’ John F. Tierney, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, North Carolina’s Mike McIntyre, Texas’ Pete Gallego and Utah’s Jim Matheson.
Seven of these Democrats sit in Romney districts, and strong GOP recruiting in a handful of additional districts could make more Democrat-held seats (Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson’s is a good example) vulnerable.
At this point in the cycle, Democrats probably need to put at least another two dozen additional districts into play — in addition to the ones I have cited above — and hold most of their own vulnerable seats to have a chance of netting 17 seats in the midterm elections. It’s a very tall order.