Not long ago, House Democrats argued, somewhat rationally, that they were in position to win back control of the House this election. At the very least, the party reasoned it could claw back several vulnerable Republican seats and position itself for a return to the majority in 2016. With less than two weeks until the election, though, House Democrats are now struggling to avoid a rout. Republicans, meanwhile, are poised to reap their largest majority of the post-war era.
Across the country, House Democrats are pulling resources out of once promising pick-up opportunities and retrenching to protect newly embattled incumbents. Just this week, Democrats threw an additional $2 million into campaigns to protect 6 Democrat seats, many of which weren’t expected to be competitive. The party faces a potential wipe-out in swing state Iowa, with Republicans potentially sweeping all four House seats, in addition to the open US Senate seat.
In Obama’s home state of Illinois, Democrats seem almost certain to lose incumbents in three House districts; IL-10, 12 and 14. The Republicans have an outside chance in two additional districts in the Land of Lincoln. The probable Republican wins in Illinois are even more striking, given that Democrats completely controlled the redistricting process in the state three years ago.
In the last week or so, Democrats have all but ceded a swing district in Northern Virginia, cancelled ads in a competitive race in upper Michigan, cut their advertising in a toss-up district in New Jersey and pulled out of their high-profile race against GOP Rep. Mike Coffman who is defending one of the swingy-est House races in the country.
In Massachusetts, Republicans are seriously contesting two House seats. The party is poised to sweep both seats in New Hampshire and could win a seat in deep blue Maine. Even in Connecticut, incumbent Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty is distancing herself from national Democrats and avoiding President Obama, who recently campaigned in the state.
These are simply snapshots of a drama playing out in districts across the country. One of the rarest creatures to find in this election cycle is an embattled House Republican incumbent. In 1946, House Republicans won 246 seats in Congress, their highest total since the 1920s. The Republican wave in 2010 brought them close to that post-war high. The 2014 midterms are likely to eclipse it. With 234 current seats, Republicans need to net just 12 to hit that historic milestone. That number is starting to look like an opening bid for the final stretch of the campaign.
It is almost impossible to overstate the advantages Democrats have in our elections. Not only have we legally enshrined a system allowing the party to coerce money out of the paychecks of millions of union workers, mega-rich individuals and interests assure the party of a fundraising edge over Republicans. The media is an in-kind campaign operation for Democrats in everything but name.
Probably not since the fields of Marathon has a force with such overwhelming advantages been driven from the field so decisively. With polls showing voters’ rejection of Democrat leadership so complete that even the alleged “gender gap” has reversed into a Republican advantage, the next two weeks are likely to bring even more collapse to House Democrats.
Soon, the Republican advantage in House races will show itself in the polls for the Senate. We may shortly have to recalibrate our expectations for November 4th.