Earlier this year, President Barack Obama told donors at a California fundraiser that “It would be a whole lot easier to govern if I had Nancy Pelosi as speaker.” A month later at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser in Chicago, the president went further, saying Democrats have “a great chance of taking back the House.”
At the August congressional break, how do the Democrats’ chances of winning a majority in the House of Representatives stand? With 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats in the House today, Democrats need to pick up a net of 17 seats.
One difficulty for Mr. Obama is that there are few open seats. Ten Republicans and six Democrats have announced they are retiring or running for higher office. All of these 16 seats appear safely in the incumbent party’s hands, making it difficult for either side to make significant gains.
The Cook Political Report now places the number of competitive seats at 36. A team of political analysts headed by University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato also lists 36 seats as tossups or leaning toward one party. The Rothenberg Political Report says 49 are tossups or leaning toward one party. By comparison, more than 100 congressional seats were in play during the 2010 midterms, most of them held by Democrats before the election.