Democratic lawmakers who lost their seats in the 2010 midterm elections are already plotting a comeback next year in an election that they hope will reverse Republican gains.
Even though the election is still more than a year away, former lawmakers aren't bashful about their 2012 ambitions.
Carol Shea Porter, former congresswoman from New Hampshire, became the latest in the line of former lawmakers to announce last week she would seek back her lost seat. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona had already announced her intention to do the same. And a host of other former representatives, such as Bill Foster of Illinois and Frank Kratovil of Maryland, may do the same.
"We're seeing a lot of candidates who believe that they can tweak one aspect of their campaign strategy and produce a different result," said David Wasserman, a House analyst for the Cook Political Report. "On the Democratic side, the hope is that the environment is a lot better in 2012 than it is in 2010."
It's not unusual for the losing party to plan a comeback after a wave election, but the new Congress is barely under way and Republicans have yet to make any major policy move that will seal their fate.
Democrats do have the advantage of 2012 being a year of a presidential election and one that political analysts predict will keep President Obama in the White House. In such states as Illinois and Maryland, redistricting may also help open up opportunities for them. But overall, it's unlikely to change the landscape significantly for Democrats, observers say.
As was the case in 2008, the election is not expected to bring back new and young voters that helped get many Democrats elected. And the Tea Party's momentum and influence is expected to continue, if not grow stronger.
"I think the Tea Party movement, even though it gets disparaged ... will be around two years from now, like they were this past year, and I think it will be an important positive factor for conservatives running," Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who lost his House seat in 2008 but regained it in 2010, told ABC News. "It'll be a presidential election. There's always high interest, but I think this next time I expect it to be very different from 2008 when I wasn't able to hold the seat."
Though redistricting is not expected to be as huge of a bonanza for the GOP as had been predicted when Republicans swept into power in numerous state legislatures, it is expected to give them a slight edge.
It will make it harder for Democrats to target Republicans such as Chabot, who is expected to gain more suburban voters who lean mostly right.
"Democrats are very hopeful, but I still think it's going to be very difficult for Democrats to reclaim the House," Wasserman said. "We've gone through this very volatile period where the average seat change in the last three elections was 38 seats, and it makes Democrats' task of picking up 25 look deceptionally easy. [But] it's very difficult, especially when redistricting is likely to narrow the fielding plain."
The political environment during the last three elections has oscillated between two extremes.
In 2006, discontent with President Bush and a spiraling economy swept Democrats to power in both chambers of Congress, and in many state legislatures.