What DCCC Memo Reveals About Dems' Election Strategy

They're either bullish or resigned

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Democrats are circulating a memo, penned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, arguing that they will not lose their majority in the House of Representatives come November. Many observers, recently even including White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, have suggested the possibility that Republicans could overtake Democrats and win the House. Is the DCCC memo right? What does it mean that Dems are sending it around?

  • What DCCC Memo Argues  The highlights: "Republicans will need to win 39 seats to take back the House. Democrats will win at least four Republican seats ... As a result, the real number of seats Republicans will have to pick up to win a majority is at least 43. To win 43 seats, the NRCC would need to put 70 to 80 seats in play. The NRCC have simply not put that many Republicans seats in play and do not have the resources or caliber of candidates to do so."
  • Memo's Math All Wrong  Stats wonk Nate Silver sighs, "In fact, there are 101 Democrat-held seats that are rated as something other than safe by at least one of the 'Big 4' forecasters (Cook, CQ, Rothenberg, Sabato). And if you include Real Clear Politics' forecasts in the mix, the total rises to 108. ... The DCCC memo also argues that there's like no freaking way that the Republicans can win more than about 60 percent of the seats that happen to be 'in play'" but there's no reason to believe the arbitrary 60 percent figure. Silver lists many more problems, concludes, "the memo was indeed vapid, jargony, and just plain f---ing wrong in many places."
  • Shows Dems Want to Express Confidence  The Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes, "Lots of folks have argued that talk about the GOP winning back the House could be helpful to Dems by dramatizing the stakes of the midterms. But this memo suggests that Dem leaders recognize that such talk needs to be neutralized quickly, lest it damage morale and dampen fundraising. At any rate, this is how Dem strategists view the evolving map right now."
  • Shows How Dems Will Challenge Tea Partiers  The Washington Examiner's Matthew Sheffield summarizes, "the memo focuses on the policies which are being advocated by Tea Party-aligned Republican candidates which are definitely not as popular nationally." Sheffield advises, "conservatives and libertarians should notice. Talking about new issues that have not been widely advocated before is uncharted territory for politicians. Regardless of whether or not one’s position on, say, the flat tax is 'accurate' or not, the fact is that few people know much about it. Ditto with the Seventeenth Amendment or discussions about the individual rights implications of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s something that some people feel very strongly about but it’s not something that has wide understanding or interest."
  • Is DCCC Resigning Itself to Defeat?  National Review's Daniel Foster suggests, "I wonder if the DCCC is passing this sort of stuff around to steady the nerves of a fidgety caucus, or whether they really believe it. Neither is particularly good for the Democrats. If it's the former, you're seeing the DCCC telling their members that the House majority is going to a beautiful farm upstate where it can run freely and play with other Democratic majorities, when what it should be doing is preparing them for war."
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