The Democrats' Long-Shot Path to Keeping the House

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Whatever the midterms may be about, and whatever happens with the Senate, almost everyone agrees that the Democrats will lose their majority in the House of Representatives on November 2. There's an argument to be made that this wouldn't be a complete disaster for Obama. But a number of high-ranking Democrats, and a scattered few analysts, insist that losing the House isn't a foregone conclusion. Do the Dems really have a shot at keeping their majority in the lower chamber?

  • Here's What the Math Looks Like  "It's a tricky path, but it's a path we've seen traveled before in politics," reads an entry at MSNBC's First Read blog. "To win, you have to run the table." What does this mean? "First, Democrats need to win the four or five GOP-held seats they're counting on... which would increase the Republicans' Magic Number from 39 to 43 or 44 (i.e., the GOP needs to pick up 43 or 44 seats to win back the House)." Then, Dems would need to win "an overwhelming majority" of the 23 "Toss-Up contests where they're still competing." If this doesn't happen, "Republicans will win the majority. It's that simple."

  • And Here's How Dems Could Do It  For Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, it's all about mobilizing the base, 2008-style. "Imagine... if women and minorities and the young all got energized," she writes. "Obama must do more in the next week to make his economic case, and to clarify the choice facing voters: which party and which candidate has a reasonable chance of making things better?" Clift adds that "the White House has garbled its message on this until now. Obama must persuade voters to allow him more time, and to give his policies a chance to work."

  • Some Democrats Beating the Victory Drum  A number of high-ranking party members have made optimistic comments in recent days. House majority whip Jim Clyburn remarked that "I do believe strongly that we will maintain control of the House and the Senate." Representative Chris van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has said, "I'm confident we're going to retain the majority and I'm confident that Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House." A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "The Speaker's focus is on Democrats winning the election and retaining their majority, which we will."

  • But the Odds Are Long  In a column for National Journal titled "It's Inevitable," Charlie Cook writes that "at this point, a Republican takeover of the House seems set in stone. A Democratic hold would amount to one of the greatest comebacks in political history." Cook acknowledges that "some Democrats who now seem hopeless will survive, and some of those expected to win will lose." But, he adds, "the general contours and dimensions of this election are not likely to change much."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.