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A Path to a Democratic House Majority

Yeah, yeah, we know that history strongly suggests Dems have little chance of winning back control of the House of Representatives next year, as Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik argue quite persuasively in this Wall St. Journal op-ed. But maybe, just maybe there is a new form of 'political jujutsu,' based on Democrats' edge with new GOTV technology, perhaps in combination with record-level public disgust with Republicans, that could turn the tide and provide the net gain of 17 seats that could put Nancy Pelosi back in charge.

Toward that end, we refer you to Stuart Rothenberg's "Is the House in Play? A District-by-District Assessment" at Roll Call, in which he acknowledges that "the Democrats' task is a challenging one," but adds that "rules are made to be broken."

Rothenberg explains that "Democratic operatives identify 30 House Republicans who won by less than 10 points last year and assert that the margin makes them vulnerable in 2014," and then he gets down to cases:

After looking over the list of 30 Republicans who won by less than 10 points, I see no more than 11 who deserve to be on a list of initially vulnerable GOPers. But let's be generous and add Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (who is likely to again win a narrow victory) to the list, bringing it to an even dozen.

To that dozen, add two California districts held by Republicans that voted for Obama -- currently represented by David Valadao and Gary G. Miller -- that the GOP won either because of a Democratic recruiting problem or the state's runoff process. Given the fundamentals of Miller's district, his seat is a Democratic takeover waiting to happen.

Now, add districts where Obama almost won and Democrats had relatively weak House candidates. That would include two districts in Pennsylvania -- now held by GOP incumbents Patrick Meehan and Michael G. Fitzpatrick -- and one in Ohio (held by freshman Rep. David Joyce).

That makes 17 districts where Democrats start with realistic opportunities to make gains. The list could grow, of course, with GOP retirements, unusually strong Democratic recruits or redrawn districts in Florida and Texas...

Rothenberg sees a few more possible pick-up opportunities. But the problem is that a number of Democratic seats -- 11 or so, according to Rothenberg -- are also vulnerable. He concludes that Dems need to put another two dozen seats in play, "a tall order" at this juncture admittedly. The equally-dim ray of hope would be that the GOP brand death-spiral will continue, or at least wear very thin by November, 2014. At least the CPAC clown show has done nothing to dispel that hope.