House Dems already raise $40M for 2014 races
To take back control of the U.S. House in next year's elections, Democrats need to win a net of 17 seats -- and analysts say that will take a lot of luck and a lot of campaign money.
Last week, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) announced he had made a step at least toward the second goal -- by retiring a $14.3 million 2012 election debt of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the main fundraising arm of the House Democrats.
Israel, now in a second stint as DCCC chairman, said that's six months before schedule. "This puts the equivalent of an additional seat in play," he said.
Democrats defied predictions last year by picking up a net of eight seats. Still, Israel refuses to make predictions more than a year before the midterm election.
"My job is to make sure that all of the elements are in place to succeed in whatever environment we're [facing] in 2014," he said.
Money is one key element.
The DCCC has raised $40.8 million this year. The National Republican Congressional Committee has raised $34.3 million but still has $2.3 million in debt.
Israel credits small-dollar donors who gave $11 million online and President Barack Obama's attendance at fundraisers in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Obama, acknowledging he can get more done with a Democratic Congress, sent out a fundraising email Friday and plans five more DCCC events.
But retaking the House, which Democrats lost in 2010, will take more than money, and next year's election could be tough for Democrats.
Historically, the party of the president has lost seats in Congress in his second term.
And the number of seats in play in 2014 has narrowed because Republicans redrew district boundaries to create districts with GOP majorities.
Republicans likely will pick up a few seats, political analysts such as Charlie Cook say.
Already, the two sides have begun their lines of attack.
Republicans are trying to pin Obamacare and other big government programs on Democrats to accuse them of raising taxes and thwarting job creation.
Democrats call Republicans ideologues who refuse to compromise on needed legislation such as immigration reform.
Israel acknowledged it will be tough for Democrats to win the House. But he said it's possible Republicans could manage to lose.
"The more Republicans continue to pursue their chaotic and extreme conduct in Washington," Israel said, "the more viable the election will become to Democrats."