WASHINGTON — Not just the White House is up for grabs in November — every member of the House of Representatives faces re-election, and a top Democrat predicted Tuesday his party would “take back the majority” in 2012.
Steny Hoyer, the House’s number two Democrat, said prospects were favorable for regaining the chamber two years after President Barack Obama’s party suffered a humbling mid-term election rout at the hands of Republicans.
And Speaker of the House John Boehner suggested there were cracks in the Republican Party’s armor, warning earlier Tuesday on Fox that “there’s a one in three chance that we could lose” the House to Democrats.
“I think there’s a higher chance than one in three, I think at best from his perspective, it’s 50-50,” Hoyer told reporters as he laid out the prospects for Democrats to win dozens of districts.
“We’re going to pick up a lot of seats, and I think we’ll take back the majority.”
The 435-member House now has 242 Republicans and 190 Democrats, with three vacancies including the seat held by Democrat Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who resigned in January to focus on her recovery after being shot in the head by a gunman.
“I believe that we will (keep control of the House), but we’ve got a real challenge,” Boehner said.
“We have 50 of our members in tough races (and) 89 freshmen running for their first re-election.”
Boehner pointed to 32 districts — in states like California and New York where Obama is heavily favored, and where there are no major US Senate races — where Republican incumbents “are frankly pretty vulnerable.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sounded more positive than Boehner, saying last week he was bullish on the House expanding its Republican control.
“I am very confident that we will strengthen our majority,” Cantor was quoted as saying by The Hill newspaper.
The public’s dreadful approval rating of Congress is likely to hurt Republicans who promised major reforms upon taking over the House early last year, and Democrats have been sizing up the prospect of another seismic shift in their direction.
Earlier this month House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the odds of regaining control have improved to better than 50-50.
Hoyer pointed to an overall fundraising advantage among Democrats, saying it was “very very unusual… for the minority party outraising the majority party in its campaign committee.”
He pointed to a “significant number of challengers who have outraised their Republican incumbents,” and recent figures which show the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raising more funds than the National Republican Congressional Committee.