President Obama’s strategy is clear: focus on winning control of the House for Democrats so he can have the unified control of government he needs to write his legacy in his final two years, as he did in his first.
Republicans today hold a 17 seat House majority, and a review of how House races are shaping up suggests the President is unlikely to get his wish.
To return Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker’s Chair requires a switch of 17 seats in addition to Democrats holding every seat they now occupy, including several in California they barely took from the GOP in 2012. That’s an extraordinarily steep hill to climb.
The outcome of the 2010 elections on the state level continues to have a big effect across the country. While most attention was focused on the Republican takeover of the House that year, less visible were Republican victories at the state level, seizing numerous governorships and state legislatures that set the stage for a 2011 redistricting that was very favorable to the GOP.
Nationally, analyst Charlie Cook rates twice as many Democrat seats as flippable (24), than Republicans (12). That’s the reverse of what Democrats need to make serious gains.
In California, two seats currently held by Democrats, the 36th with Raul Ruiz and the 52nd with Scott Peters, are classified as toss-ups. Only one district, the 31st, held by Gary Miller, is considered a tossup as well. In the “leaning” categories, again there are two Democrats, Ami Bera in the 7th and Julia Brownley in the 26th, to only one Republican: David Valadao in the 21st. In short, four Democrat seats in California are in jeopardy at this moment, compared to only two Republicans. Again, not looking good for net Democrat pickups in California.
If either chamber is going to change hands, it’s most likely the Senate, and that’s good news for Republicans. Of the ten most vulnerable Senate incumbents, eight are Democrats.