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GOP predicts uphill climb for Democrats' efforts to retake the House

March 19, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Flowers are in bloom in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. Unseasonably warm weather has caused Washington's spring flowers and cherry blossoms to bloom early.
Flowers are in bloom in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. Unseasonably… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — The House GOP’s campaign arm believes the Democrats’ “drive for 25” seats to retake the House majority is more like a long haul for at least 30 seats, thanks primarily to retirements of conservative Blue Dog Democrats from districts that strongly lean Republican.

Noting that the party in power in the White House has not netted more than a 15-seat gain in the House since Lyndon B. Johnson was president, GOP leaders said Monday the Democratic effort would be an uphill climb.

“They would have to break a whole lot of historical precedent to get to 25 -- and it’s not really 25 any more they’re shooting for,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who heads recruitment efforts for the National Republican Congressional Committee, at a briefing at GOP headquarters.

With Democrats now controlling 193 seats, they need to net 25 seats this fall to retake the House majority. Republicans said four retirements in GOP strongholds in Arkansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma have left Democrats without strong replacement candidates, all but “abandoning” those seats to the Republicans. Redistricting nets the GOP at least one other seat, the Republicans said.

That said, Republicans face their own problems defending incumbents in GOP-held seats that could tilt the math in the Democrats’ favor.

Democrats are gearing up to strike vulnerable Republicans over the GOP-led House’s budget, due out Tuesday, that is expected to slash federal spending and dramatically change Medicare for seniors. Democrats point to polling that shows the GOP’s popularity with voters dropped after last year’s budget debate over similar issues.

Republicans are also struggling to retain the women’s vote after the GOP’s efforts to change the nation’s new healthcare law, which will require insurance companies to provide contraceptive coverage as part of its free preventive care services.

As the GOP presidential primary race drags on, congressional Republicans have also had to go without a single party leader to amplify their message.

Republicans believe those challenges pose little match as their candidates run against Obama’s agenda, which Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the NRCC, said would be key to the election. “He is the issue,” Sessions said.

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GOP predicts uphill climb for Democrats' efforts to retake the House

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