Playing House


My Sunday morning personal look at the Senate races turned into a column for Monday morning, which made Managing Supereditor Aaron Hanscom happy, but what about the House? I haven’t done anything with the Other Chamber yet this cycle for two reasons: There are too many Republicans and too few Democrats to make things very dynamic. That is to say, even if there does turn out to be another GOP wave this fall, it won’t do much in the House. The Democrats are near their natural floor, and the Republicans are near their natural ceiling. And nobody says there’s going to be a Democrat wave, not even Debbie Wasserman-Schultz after three tabs of ecstasy.

But let’s look at RCP’s map above and see if we can’t get a feel for November anyway.

At first glance there’s little room for action because the Republicans currently hold 233 seats and are expected to come out with 232 — but that’s before we get to the close races. In other words, the GOP is expected to hold virtually all of its numbers without winning a single tossup. That 232 includes two Likely R pickups (NC07 & UT04) and one Leans D loss (CA31). With an expected minimum Democrat caucus of 187, that leaves just 16 seats in the Tossup center column.

I’d like to think that in turbulent times in a healthy Republic, we’d have for more than just 3.6% of our Peoples’ House up for grabs, but those aren’t the times we live in. Nevertheless, 13 of those 16 Tossups are currently held by Democrats. Simply split the difference, and come January, Speaker Boehner could enjoy an enlarged caucus of 240 Republican congresscritters. That’s just shy of his 242-seat majority in 2010.

The Donks could win every single tossup race and still come up 15 seats shy of the slenderest possible majority.

Where the Republicans could find themselves struggling to turn some of those tossups red is in California (CA07, CA36, CA52) and in New York (NY01, NY21). California is home to one-third of all the nation’s welfare cases (which I assume to include Medicaid expansion) and New Yorkers are expected to be among one of the small handful of states whose residence will actually pay less under ♡bamaCare!!!. That makes a harder case for GOP challengers to make against their sitting Democrat opponents. A savvy national party might do better concentrating spending efforts on taking D seats in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. But keep an eye on the polls, because House races are hyperlocal and anything can happen — be ready to spend.

If there’s a larger point to be found, it’s this: Now is the time to knock their d**** in the dirt.

The primary GOP effort must be to win back the Senate, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make a real effort to expand their majority in the House, even if it’s only a modest gain. That’s the kind of one-two knockout win which can’t be spun away. The Spin Cycle has already begun in anticipation of upcoming Democrat losses. But here’s the thing. The Democrat-Media Complex can only discredit itself even further if it keeps confronting the public with the political equivalent of “Who you gonna believe — me or your own lyin’ eyes?”

And the way you give them enough rope is by taking enough seats.