One year out from the 2012 elections, House Democrats say that a combination of recruiting successes, positive movement in generic ballot polling and redistricting puts the party on the path to regaining the majority.
At a briefing with reporters Friday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said that after last year’s crushing midterm defeat, the party is winning back independents and seniors because of policies supported by the GOP majority. He said voters were feeling “a sense of buyer’s remorse” toward Republicans and noted that the DCCC has had stronger recent fundraising than its Republican counterpart.
“Republican investors don’t want to make a bad investment,” he said.
But while Israel said he believes Democrats have a wind at their backs, he also acknowledged the political reality that in a presidential year the top of the ticket will have a big influence on downballot races.
“President [Barack] Obama’s numbers need to improve,” he said, referring to the president’s popularity.
Republicans took issue with Israel’s characterization that the political climate currently favors Democrats.
“Unfortunately, the people actually feeling gale force winds are the middle-class families dealing with the devastating effects of Washington Democrats’ job-crushing policies” said Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Redistricting is still an unraveling factor for both parties. Israel listed five states with “significant redistricting swings” that could greatly effect who controls the House next term: Illinois, California, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.
“We have exceeded expectations in redistricting,” he said. “The worst case for us will be a wash and the best case is potentially coming out with a handful of districts.”
When asked if Democrats were prepared for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R) removal of an Independent Redistricting Commission chairwoman Tuesday night, Israel raised his voice and suggested Brewer should be removed.
“I don’t think anyone was prepared. I think the people of Arizona should consider impeaching Jan Brewer for what she did,” he said. “We will push every button. We will use every strategy [and] will appeal to any fair court to redress this trampling of a fair and independent process. And instead of impeaching the highly regarded, truly independent of that body … Gov. Brewer should think about impeaching herself.”
House Democrats also have a lot riding on Florida’s unresolved redistricting, and Israel said they are watching the state closely. “Our path to 25 seats flows straight through Florida,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel said Friday he is “very confident” vulnerable Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) will run for re-election. Shuler raised just $87,000 in the third quarter and a GOP-led redistricting has made his re-election fight all the more difficult.