Skip to content

DCCC Chairman Says Majority Is ‘Definitely Going to Be in Play.’ Really?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján declared the House majority would be up for grabs in 2016.  

But the initial political reality isn’t quite so simple. “The majority is definitely going to be in play,” Lujan said in a Tuesday interview with Roll Call Politics Editor Shira T. Center in Statuary Hall after the president’s address.  

Stuart Rothenberg addressed the issue of the House being in play in his Jan. 13 column :

Democrats have a better chance of winning control of the House next year than they did at any time in 2014. That’s true even though they now need to gain 30 seats, almost twice what they needed last year.

No, I’m not suggesting Democrats will win the House in 2016. Far from it. Right now, you’d need a magnifying glass, probably even a microscope, to find the party’s chances of taking control.

But not all hope is lost for Democrats, according to Stu :

Presidential year turnout, which should bring more younger voters and minorities to the polls, should help Democratic candidates across the board, and while Obama won’t be irrelevant during the campaign, he isn’t likely to be quite the albatross around Democratic candidates’ necks that he was last year….

Obviously, there are so many uncertainties about the 2016 election that it’s impossible to know now how the fight for the House will be impacted by retirements, candidate recruitment, economic conditions, developments on Capitol Hill over the next two years and national security concerns.

Stu’s initial bottom line is still more modest than Lujan’s claims:

As this cycle begins (and looking only at fundamentals), the most likely House outcome next year would be modest to substantial Democratic gains, ranging from as few as five to as many as 20 seats. Even at the upper limit of that range, the DCCC would still be a ways from the 30 seats the party needs for a majority.

In fact, 30 seats is a big number. Since 1950, gains that large have occurred six times during midterm elections, when partisan waves often appear, but only twice in presidential years, in 1964 and 1980. And that’s an important reason why the GOP starts as the clear favorite to retain control of the House in 2016.


DCCC Kicks Off 2016 Recruitment

Democrats Irrelevant? Don’t Be So Sure, Pelosi Promises

New DCCC Chairman Rides on Air Force One

Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director

Luján Pledges to Bring Farmer’s Work Ethic to DCCC

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

Be the first to know about Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call race rating changes with our new Roll Call politics app!

Recent Stories

Eight questions for elections in five states on Tuesday

Paul Pelosi attacker sentenced to 30 years in prison

House Over-slight Committee — Congressional Hits and Misses

Biden kicks off outreach to Black voters as protest threat looms at Morehouse

Editor’s Note: Stock market no panacea for Biden, Democrats

Photos of the week ending May 17, 2024