2014 Democratic Targets in the House
Most of the talk regarding this year’s midterm election centers on the the Republican chances of taking the majority in the Senate. Though Democrats are on the defensive with a disproportionate amount of red-state Democratic centers seeking reelection, this is not the only majority changing storyline in Congress. The Republican controlled House sits at 234 R, 200 D and 1 vacancy (Republican Bill Young’s St. Petersburg based district). The Dems will likely have to net +18 districts in to gain the majority in 2014, which is a tough pull considering the decreases in district competitiveness across the country. Nonetheless, myriad fluid factors, such as candidate strength, local issues, national mood, weather, third party candidates, migration, and the confluence of money may override simple considerations of voter party id and previous election results. That said, here is a map of those districts that provide the greatest potential for democratic pickups in the House in 2014:
Below is a ranking of which seats should be prioritized the most, based on incumbent vulnerability and district demographics. The rankings are debatable between individual lines, but as a bloc, the top 10 should be easier than 11-20, and so on.
Whether it is district demographics (IL-13, CA-31, CA-21) or weak incumbents (Benishek, Bentivolio, Amash, Noem), a strong Democratic candidate and at least 75% turnout of Obama supporters from the 2012 election, should lead to a net gain of at least 8 seats. To get the other 10, several of these candidates need to publicly implode with scandal, and the national mood needs to shift back to the pro-Dem levels during the government shutdown. Though this may be a best cased scenario, not many (any?) people foresaw a 63 seat GOP gain in 2010, so a more modest Dem gain is not beyond the pale. At some point, strong candidates (previous electeds, well funded, district ties) need to step up in off years to compensate for the decreased pro-Democratic turnout. The status quo has a lot of inertia right now, and it would not be surprising if Democrats lost a seat or two in the Senate, and picked up a couple of seats in the House, creating a null effect in changes of power structures in Congress as a whole.