Spotlight

Burning Down the House

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: The morning sun begins to rise behind the U.S. Capitol, October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. With the government shutdown going into the fifteenth day and the deadline for raising the debt ceiling fast approaching, Democrats and Republicans may come to an agreement soon on passing a budget. 
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
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Josh Kraushaar
Oct. 22, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

If you’re look­ing for signs that the House could be in play in 2014, there are plenty in the wake of the gov­ern­ment shut­down. Between the macro trends (grow­ing D leads on the gen­er­ic bal­lot) and the race-by-race de­vel­op­ments (a crop of new re­cruits run­ning), Demo­crats have reas­ons to be cau­tiously op­tim­ist­ic.

— The most en­cour­aging news for the party is on the re­cruit­ment front. Party op­er­at­ives now ex­pect to land a num­ber of re­cruits in both: a) swing dis­tricts where ser­i­ous chal­lengers usu­ally don’t run, even in good years; b) Re­pub­lic­an-friendly seats where chal­lengers only run in strong Demo­crat­ic years, like 2006 and 2008.

— To wit: Dems are clos­ing to land­ing a former gubernat­ori­al nom­in­ee (Alex Sink) to run in FL-13, and a former con­gress­man’s son (Bill Hughes, Jr.) to chal­lenge Rep. Frank Lo­Bi­ondo (R-NJ). Neither seat has been in play for dec­ades. In solidly-Re­pub­lic­an sub­urb­an seats around Omaha (NE-02), Little Rock (AR-02) and South Bend (IN-02), Dems ex­pect to re­cruit mod­er­ate can­did­ates cap­able of win­ning cros­sov­er voters. These races alone aren’t enough to tip the ma­jor­ity, but if they’re in­dic­at­ive of a trend, stay tuned.

— This re­cruit­ing boom­let is a product of the more fa­vor­able na­tion­al land­scape for Dems. The latest ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll shows Dems hold­ing an 8-point lead on the gen­er­ic, with Amer­ic­ans’ ap­prov­al of their own rep­res­ent­at­ive at an all-time low (43%/47%). The only sil­ver lin­ing for the GOP: Obama‘s ap­prov­al re­mains me­diocre, and even a D+8 isn’t a guar­an­tee of pick­ing up the 17 seats ne­ces­sary for con­trol. Also: this is the GOP’s low-wa­ter mark, and the Dem num­bers will prob­ably take a hit giv­en Obama­care’s im­ple­ment­a­tion woes.

It wasn’t long ago that there was talk about wide­spread voter dis­sat­is­fac­tion lead­ing to per­man­ent wave elec­tions. That’s still not likely this time, but the po­ten­tial ex­ists as voter ap­prov­al con­tin­ues to hit re­cord lows.

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