Campaign 2010

Jun 14, 2012

Math to the Majority

Intense buyer’s remorse among independent voters has driven House Republicans numbers down.  In 2012, the head wind House Democrats had faced in 2010 has corrected and Democrats now have a neutral political environment.  With this better political environment, favorable redistricting results, and excellent candidates running strong campaigns there are two questions that will determine whether Democrats win the House in November: Do Democrats have messages that work?  Are there enough seats in play to win?  The answer to both questions is yes.

Democrats Benefiting From Tail Wind

Speaker John Boehner admitted Republicans have a challenging political environment when he recently said that the Republican majority is at risk and that at least 50 Members of his caucus are in serious jeopardy. Speaker Boehner is particularly concerned about “blue” states where Democrats made significant redistricting gains and where President Obama will win with comfortable margins – California, Illinois, and New York.

Speaker Boehner is rightfully concerned about Republicans ability to hold the majority. 


At worst, redistricting is a wash for House Democrats.  At best, redistricting will result in a 1 to 3 seat pick up for House Democrats.

Of the marginal seats that were weakened in redistricting, 17 are Democratic and 24 are Republican.  Weakened Republican seats are in disproportionately Democratic-leaning states like New York, California, and Illinois, which will favor Democratic House candidates. Conversely, weakened Democratic seats are disproportionately in battleground Presidential states, where Democrats will have a superior ground game. 

Races that have been taken off the table for Democrats have been offset by newly endangered Republicans or brand new seats the Republicans have virtually conceded.  Even in states where Republicans supposedly shored up their members, it came at a cost – Republicans made another of their incumbents more vulnerable.

Ultimately, the playing field contains as many opportunities, if not more, for Democrats to pick up seats now as it did before redistricting.

Voters Prefer Democrats

Democrats are leading the generic ballot test and Democratic incumbents are stronger than Republican incumbents.

According to a Reuters/IPSOS poll released this week, Democrats lead congressional Republicans in the generic ballot by 3 (47-44).  For perspective, leading up to the November 2010 election Republicans led the Reuters generic by 6 points (50-44).  This 9 point swing spells trouble for House Republicans.

A recent Battleground poll by Democracy Corps surveyed the 28 most vulnerable Republican and 23 most vulnerable Democratic districts across the country.  It found the most vulnerable Republicans are -2 (30–32 percent) in favorability while the most vulnerable Democrats are + 20 (43-23), meaning that threatened Democratic incumbents are in a much stronger position to win than vulnerable Republicans are.

Democrats Have Winning Messages

The paid advertising campaign in AZ-08 was a preview of the 2012 message battle between Democrats and Republicans – and Democrats won.  Democrats ran on the Republican candidate’s plan to end Medicare and privatize Social Security.  In response, Republicans rehashed 2010 messaging with misleading attacks on Obamacare, gas prices, and national Democrats. 

Republicans’ stock ads from last cycle were unable to overcome Republicans’ biggest liability: when the election is framed as a choice between Democrats, who will protect the middle class and seniors, or Republicans who will protect big corporations and millionaires – Democrats win.

This reflects polling that Geoff Garin of Garin, Hart, Yang Research did in 58 of the most competitive congressional districts in April and May 2012.  Garin found:

“Democrats have a significant advantage over Republicans when it comes to ‘looking out for the interests and concerns of the middle class.’

  • “Half (49%) of all voters give the edge to Democrats when it comes to looking out for the middle class, whereas just one-third (33%) says Republicans would be better.
  • “Independent voters trust Democrats over Republicans to look out for the middle class by a 19-point margin (37% to 18%).

“On Social Security and Medicare, by 48% to 40% voters agree more with Democrats that the priority should be to protect guaranteed benefits for seniors, now and in the future, than with the Republican statement that we need to modernize entitlement programs and give consumers more choices to ensure the long-term survival of Social Security and Medicare and balance the budget. Seniors (who are even in the Congressional vote) prefer the Democratic position by a 26-point margin.”

Democrats Have Enough Seats in Play to Win

House Democrats are on offense and we have a clear eyed, realistic plan to win the Majority.  We need to pick up 25 seats to win the Majority, although the DCCC’s strategy is to win more than that to offset any potential surprises. 

Let’s take a look at the math that gets Democrats to the Majority:



Type of District

Democrats Win %

Districts Win #


 Incumbent Democrats




 Open Strong Democratic




 Open/Republican in Democratic leaning




 Open/Republican in toss-up



Total districts goal


The battle for the House comes down to 68 Republican leaning and Republican toss-up seats.


25 Open Strong Democratic (win 25)
31 Open/Republican Seats that Lean Democratic (win 23)
CA-07      Lungren
CA-52      Bilbray
CO-06      Coffman
FL-18       West
FL-26       Rivera
IL-08        Walsh
IL-10        Dold
IL-11        Biggert
IL-17        Schilling
IN-08       Bucshon
MD-06     Bartlett
MI-01      Benishek
MN-08     Cravaack
NH-01      Guinta
NH-02      Bass
NV-03      Heck
NY-11      Grimm
NY-18      Hayworth
NY-19      Gibson
NY-24      Buerkle
OH-06      Johnson
PA-08      Fitzpatrick
WI-07      Duffy
WI-08      Ribble

39 Open/Republican toss-up seats (win 15)
AR-01      Crawford
CA-10      Denham
CA-36      Bono Mack
CA-39      Royce
CO-03      Tipton
CO-04      Gardner
FL-02       Southerland
FL-10       Webster
FL-13       Young
FL-16       Buchanan
IA-04       King
MI-03      Amash
MN-02     Kline
MO-04     Hartzler
NE-02      Terry
NJ-03       Runyan
NY-22      Hanna
NY-23      Reed
OH-07      Gibbs
OH-10      Turner
PA-06      Gerlach
PA-07      Meehan
PA-18      Murphy
SD-AL     Noem
TX-23      Canseco
VA-02      Rigell
VA-05      Hurt
WI-01      Ryan
160 Democratic Incumbents (win 160)
AL-07    Sewell
AZ-02    Barber
AZ-03    Grijalva
AZ-07    Pastor
CA-03    Garamendi
CA-05    Thompson
CA-06    Matsui
CA-09    McNerney
CA-11    Miller
CA-12    Pelosi
CA-13    Lee
CA-14    Speier
CA-15    Stark
CA-16    Costa
CA-17    Honda
CA-18    Eshoo
CA-19    Lofgren
CA-20    Farr
CA-24    Capps
CA-27    Chu
CA-28    Schiff
CA-30    Berman/Sherman
CA-32    Napolitano
CA-33    Waxman
CA-34    Becerra
CA-35    Baca
CA-37    Bass
CA-38    Sanchez
CA-40    Roybal-Allard
CA-43    Waters
CA-44    Hahn/Richardson
CA-46    Sanchez
CO-01    DeGette
CO-02    Polis
CO-07    Perlmutter
CT-01     Larson
CT-02     Courtney
CT-03     DeLauro
CT-04     Himes
DE-AL   Carney
FL-05     Brown
FL-14     Castor
FL-20     Hastings
FL-21     Deutch
FL-23     Wasserman-Schultz
FL-24     Wilson
GA-02    Bishop
GA-04    Johnson
GA-05    Lewis
GA-12    Barrow
GA-13    Scott
HI-01      Hanabusa
IA-01      Braley
IA-02      Loebsack
IA-03      Boswell
IL-01      Rush
IL-02      Jackson Jr.
IL-03      Lipinski
IL-04      Gutierrez
IL-05      Quigley
IL-07      Davis
IL-09      Schakowsky
IN-01      Visclosky
IN-07      Carson
KY-03    Yarmuth
KY-06    Chandler
LA-02    Richmond
MA-01   Neal
MA-02   McGovern
MA-03   Tsongas
MA-05   Markey
MA-06   Tierney
MA-07   Capuano
MA-08   Lynch
MA-09   Keating
MD-02   Ruppersberger
MD-03   Sarbanes
MD-04   Edwards
MD-05   Hoyer
MD-07   Cummings
MD-08   Van Hollen
ME-01    Pingree
ME-02    Michaud
MI-09     Levin
MI-12     Dingell
MI-13     Conyers
MI-14     Clarke/Peters
MN-01   Walz
MN-04   McCollum
MN-05   Ellison
MN-07   Peterson
MO-01   Clay/Carnahan
MO-05   Cleaver
MS-02    Thompson
NC-01    Butterfield
NC-04    Price
NC-07    McIntyre
NC-08    Kissell
NC-12    Watt
NJ-01     Andrews
NJ-06     Pallone
NJ-08     Sires
NJ-09     Pascrell
NJ-12     Holt
NM-03   Lujan
NY-01    Bishop
NY-03    Israel
NY-04    McCarthy
NY-05    Meeks
NY-07    Velazquez
NY-09    Clarke
NY-10    Nadler
NY-12    Maloney
NY-13    Rangel
NY-14    Crowley
NY-15    Serrano
NY-16    Engel
NY-17    Lowey
NY-20    Tonko
NY-21    Owens
NY-25    Slaughter
NY-26    Higgins
NY-27    Hochul
OH-09    Kaptur
OH-11    Fudge
OH-13    Ryan
OH-16    Sutton
OR-01    Bonamici
OR-03    Blumenauer
OR-04    DeFazio
OR-05    Schrader
PA-01     Brady
PA-02     Fattah
PA-12     Critz
PA-13     Schwartz
PA-14     Doyle
RI-01      Cicilline
RI-02      Langevin
SC-06     Clyburn
TN-05    Cooper
TN-09    Cohen
TX-09    Green
TX-15    Hinojosa
TX-18    Jackson Lee
TX-28    Cuellar
TX-29    Green
TX-30    Bernice Johnson
TX-35    Doggett
UT-04    Matheson
VA-03    Scott
VA-08    Moran
VA-11    Connolly
VT-AL   Welch
WA-02   Larsen
WA-07   McDermott
WA-09   Smith
WI-03     Kind
WI-04     Moore
WV-03   Rahall

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