The Democrats need a net-gain of 25 seats in order to retake control of the U.S. House. Given that we've seen three straight elections with at least 24 seats changing hands, it's not hard to imagine that is a possibility given in 2012.
Republicans say it's too big of a hill for Democrats to climb, but the Washington Post finds four reasons why it's possible that Democrats retake the House and four reasons they won't.
Why they will:
- The generic ballot: Democrats have been hyping this measure for a long time. It basically shows that, given a choice between a nameless, faceless Republican and a nameless, faceless Democrat, voters right now prefer the Democrat – and by several points in some polls.
- Obama’s momentum: Don’t look now, but the country just had two good jobs reports in a row, and President Obama’s personal approval rating rose to 50 percent in a newWashington Post-ABC News poll.
- Fundraising: While the GOP has a House majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee actually outraised the NRCC by about $7 million dollars in 2011. On top of that, Democratic challengers outraised more than a dozen GOP incumbents in the fourth quarter of 2011 – a strong sign of the quality of Democratic candidates.
- History: Republicans have held this many seats five times since 1900, and each time they sustained huge losses in the next election – an average loss of 48 seats.
Why they won't:
- Democratic retirements: House Democrats have been bitten more by the retirement bug than Republicans. The minority party, as it often does after losing its majority, has lost more members overall — 20 Democrats are either retiring or running for higher office, compared to 14 Republicans — and their retirees come from tougher districts, too.
- Super PACs: Whatever advantage the DCCC has over the NRCC is likely to be wiped out — and then some — by Republican-leaning super PACs who should plug tens of millions of dollars into keeping the House.
- Redistricting: While maybe not as big a windfall for the GOP as it had hoped, redistricting has helped Republicans shore up some of their most vulnerable members. In most cases, these members got a few points better and will still have to defend themselves, but overall it’s a boon to the GOP.
- History: For every historical justification, there’s an inverse. History shows it’s exceedingly rare for the president’s party to win control of the House when that president is up for reelection. More often than not, the president’s party makes modest gains, if at all.