"The historic context is interesting, and it informs my strategic and tactical judgments," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel. "I think we are in such a unique environment, in terms of where the economy is, where our persuadables are, where those independents are, the districts we've got to win, that all the conventions and orthodoxies of the past are interesting reading but not determinative of this election."
Part of the explanation for the lack of major change in the House for the is that for a long time, Democrats held control of the chamber. For 40 years leading up to the 1994 wave when Republicans swept to power in the House, Democrats held a majority. A major reason is that during much of that time, Democrats were the dominant party in much of the South, something that has since changed dramatically.
Israel laid out a detailed plan to take back the House on Tuesday: Win 30 percent of the 43 Republican-held seats that went for Obama in 2008, 70 percent of the 19 Republican seats in districts that went for both Obama and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and that makes 26 pickups.
But Democrats have vulnerable incumbents of their own to protect and are currently facing a net loss of three members through merged district races (something that could change) that must be made up thorough open races in new districts. Israel said that if Democrats lose a third of the members in their "Frontline" incumbent protection program, they still feel they are in range to take back the majority.
It's a tall task. But Democrats can take comfort in the fact that history isn't working exclusively against them this cycle. As House Race Hotline noted shortly after the 2010 election, in the five times the GOP has hit or crossed the 242 number (where they are now), they averaged a 48-seat loss the next cycle.