VOTE 2012 -- May 10, 2012 at 7:05 PM ET
DCCC Chair Says Independents Are Key to Democrats Retaking the House
Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York told reporters Thursday he was ready for another big swing this November. Despite the shellacking House Democrats took in the 2010 midterm elections, Israel forecasts a different dynamic at the conclusion of this election season.
"I think it's cyclical," Israel said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "There are a bunch of districts the Republicans won in 2010 and the morning after, the smart Republicans were saying, 'We're never going to hold these.'"
It's a sharp contrast from his Republican counterpart, Rep. Pete Sessions, who told reporters Wednesday he isn't worried the GOP will lose control of the House.
Israel said that the goalposts for the 2012 congressional election have moved. Retaking the majority in the House, a task once seen as a long shot for Congressional Democrats, is now within reach, according to the admittedly rosy view from the DCCC chairman.
To reclaim the majority, Democrats will have to achieve a net gain of 25 seats.
"We've done everything in our power to get that goal in sight," Israel said.
Another key part of the Democratic campaign strategy is taking advantage of the Tea Party movement's decline in popularity. An ABC News/Washington Post poll last month showed the waning national influence of the group, and Israel was eager to highlight the differences between his candidates and those on the opposite side of the ballot.
"Take a look at the Republican candidates, these people still believe the Tea Party ought to be running this country," he said.
Israel is counting on the presidential race to drive independent voter turnout, creating a tailwind for down-ballot Democratic contenders among the traditional swing voters who are displeased with the present state of congressional gridlock. He described himself as "obsessed" with independent voters.
"There is an unquenchable thirst among independent voters for problem solvers and a proactive hostility towards Tea Party Republicans who have now become part of the problem," Israel said. "We believe what the Congress needs is more problem solving; more ideas, less ideology."