This week, Democrats will reach a milestone of real importance: they will break their record for the most House seats challenged since at least 1992.***
Dating back to 1994, Democrats have lost the last six elections for the House. In each of those six elections, we ran fewer candidates than Republicans. Our best effort was in 2000, when we ran candidates in 403 districts, and Republicans ran candidates in 404 districts. This was both our highest district total, and our smallest deficit to Republicans in the last six elections. Perhaps not surprisingly, we also received our highest share of the national popular vote in 2000, coming in at 47.9%.
Right now, however, we have 402 candidates set...
Just as importantly, it looks like Republicans will field a surprisingly low number of candidates in 2006. In California alone, Republicans are not challenging seven districts, more than the total number of districts Democrats have so far left unchallenged nationwide. In 2004, Republicans only failed to challenge three seats in California. We are clearly witnessing an upswing in Democratic recruitment, and a downturn in Republican recruitment. Not only will we challenge more seats than we have in any of the six most recent elections, we will almost certainly challenge more seats than Republicans for the first time in at lest seven elections. In fact, with early returns like these, we could challenge far more seats than Republicans.
Not only is this a sign of a Democratic year, this recruiting will become a cause of a democratic year. With fewer Democratic incumbents facing serious challenges, or any challenges at all, they will be able to funnel more money into competitive districts. With more Republicans facing serious challenges, fewer Republican incumbents will be able to funnel money into competitive districts. Research by Project 90 suggests that this could result in a swing of up to $21M in favor of Democrats in swing elections. Our greater number of challenges will stretch Republican defenses to a point they have not been stretched since they took over Congress in 1994.
If we make substantial gains in the House, or even, God willing, retake it, Rahm Emanuel of the DCCC and his sponsors at the DLC will be quick to take the credit. But credit will belong to Howard Dean, chair of the DNC, whose 50-state, grassroots strategy was pooh-poohed by Establishment Dems and the DLC.
h/t to Chris Bowers at MyDD.
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