The magic number for Democrats in the 2012 election is 25. That’s the number of seats they need to regain the majority in the House of Representatives, a majority that Republicans took handily after sweeping 60 seats in the 2010 midterm elections.
And with one year and four days until Election Day, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already ramping up its efforts to snatch back those 25 seats in an optimistic campaign to take back control in 2012. The committee will launch Monday a “Drive for 25″ radio ad campaign targeting the 25 GOP incumbents for their “failures on not focusing on what’s important to the people they represent,” DCCC chairman Rep. Steve Israel of New York said.
“We are going to continue to be hyper-aggressive. We are going to continue to be proactive and energetic,” Israel said. “We are going to keep them on the ropes. We are going to tie them to the ropes. We are going to encase the ties with cement. We are going to continue to keep our feet on their feet and we are going to continue to pound and hold them accountable for the mistakes that they’ve made.”
The ad against Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas, for example, blasts him for “helping out his special interest friends.” The radio spot targeting Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida tells listeners that he is under investigation by the Department of Justice and asks how he can “fight for us when he’s so busy looking out for himself?”
“The fact of the matter is in 2010 we got swept off our feet by commercials brought to you by the Supreme Court of the United States of America,” Israel said, referencing the court decision that allows “Super PACs” to spend unlimited funds on ads as long as they are not officially affiliated with a candidate. “That became a lesson learned. We are already far ahead of where we were .”
Despite the president’s dismal approval ratings – 44 percent approved while 49 disapproved in the latest Gallup poll – Israel was nothing but confident in Democrats’ ability to snatch back control of the lower house.
“If I were the House Republicans, I’d be more worried about House Republican numbers than the president’s numbers,” Israel said. “Look, the president’s numbers need to improve. But House Republican numbers are toxic, radioactive.”
Congressional approval ratings hit an all-time low last month of 9 percent, according to an Oct. 24 CBS-New York Times poll. While Congressional Republicans fared better, with 20 percent approval, than the overall Congress, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, they fell behind the 26 percent of respondents who said they approved of congressional Democrats.
“There is a strong anti-incumbent mood in this country,” Israel said. “People want problem solvers, they want less ideology and more solutions and so I suggested to every one of our recruits in districts where the president is going to do well and in districts where the president has challenges, talk about solving people’s problems.”
Israel said Democrats had a “mathematical advantage” because the GOP has 50 to 60 incumbent seats to defend while his party has about 12 to 15.
“This could be one of the most challenging environments that incumbents have ever run in,” Israel said. “Nobody can take anything for granted in this environment but the simple math says that in an anti-incumbent environment, they have many more incumbents that they have got to protect than we do.”
Turning to more immediate political maneuvering, Israel said he had no details about the super committee’s deficit-reduction plan, which the 12-member bipartisan committee must present to Congress in less than three weeks.
“I’m going to tell you everything I know about the super committee, everything I know in three words: I don’t know,” he said. “It’s the fairest and most truthful response I can give you. I don’t know.”
Israel did not miss an opportunity to slam Republicans for refusing to consider tax increases as part of the deal to slash at least $1.5 trillion from the deficit in 10 years.
“Republicans in their extremism have said, ‘No, we will end Medicare but we will not ask a single CEO to sacrifice a single dollar,’” he said. “They have voting records that are just so out of touch, so ideologically extreme, so against solving problems in order to advance an ideological extremist agenda that I like our chances [in 2012].”