Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

NRCC Memo: We Will Expand the Playing Field for 2014

Walden heads the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden signaled that he plans to stay on offense in 2014 with the aim of expanding his party’s 17-seat majority.

In a Wednesday memo to the House Republican Conference obtained exclusively by CQ Roll Call, Walden says his committee will be “aggressively expanding the playing field” thanks, in part, to Democratic recruitment struggles.

“The question facing Democrats is how, if they are struggling on their home court, will they ever win the Republican-leaning districts they need to regain the majority?” Walden wrote to his colleagues.

He went on to highlight Democratic candidates who dropped their House bids early in the cycle, framing them as recruitment failures. He named-checked former candidates such as hotel magnate Jim Graves in Minnesota’s 6th District and former state Sen. Staci Appel in Iowa’s 3rd District.

Walden also cited promising polling in a handful of House seats held by Democrats, including:

  • California’s 36th District: Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande led Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz 44 percent to 41 percent, with 13 percent of respondents favoring someone else or unsure, according to a mid-May bilingual survey from Harper Polling. The survey had a margin of error of 4.9 points. Nestande has already announced he will challenge Ruiz.
  • California’s 52nd District: Republican Carl DeMaio led Democratic Rep. Scott Peters 49 percent to 39 percent, according to a live survey conducted by the Tarrance Group, a GOP firm, April 22-24. CQ Roll Call reported on the results of this poll in May and since then, DeMaio has announced he will challenge Peters.
  • Illinois’ 10th District: Former Rep. Robert Dold, a Republican, led Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider in a rematch 44 percent to 39 percent, with 17 percent of survey respondents undecided, according to a mid-May Harper poll. The survey had a margin of error of 4.9 points. CQ Roll Call recently reported that Dold will face Schneider again in 2014.
  • Illinois’ 12th District: Republican state Rep. Mike Bost led Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart 33 percent to 27 percent, according to an early May survey from Harper Polling. However, a large number of respondents, 40 percent, said they were undecided. The survey had a margin of error of 3.3 points. Republicans expect Bost to announce a campaign in the coming weeks.
  • Utah’s 4th District: Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson led GOP challenger Mia Love by 3 points, according to a mid-May poll from Harper Polling. The survey had a margin of error of 4 points. Love has already announced she will seek a rematch with Matheson, who defeated her by fewer than 800 votes last year.

Harper Polling used automated surveys to test these races. Many pollsters believe this survey method is not as accurate as live interviewing.

Last cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was bullish about taking the majority. But the party fell significantly short of that goal, despite picking up a respectable net of eight seats on election night.

So far this cycle, House Democrats have focused on recruitment in specific races instead, and DCCC operatives express confidence in candidates such as Gwen Graham of Florida and Domenic Recchia of New York who they say can put Republican seats in play as well.

“Republicans pledged to be on offense in 2012 and then lost more seats than anyone expected — and it looks like they’re headed down the same track,” DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner wrote in an email.

  • Gregory Williams

    Seems HARPER is one of them there “un-skeewed” extremist partisan conservative controlled polling outfits and therefore WRONG in very way that matters … the republicans are hoping to fool people into keeping them in control of the House, socially moderate and moderately inclined fiscal realist Democrats can take 15-20 seats from republicans where the demographics show a more highly educated and tolerant population of non-extremist and not THAT conservative republicans still have sway – they will vote for democrats if that democrat is a social moderate supportive of an expanded middle class and a higher standard of living for the working poor through a lower cost of living in energy, food, housing and health care costs AND if they attack the free ride for the rich & corporations on the backs of the poor policies that extremist conservative obstructionist republicans enact and support …. let CLASS WAR be an issue and tell the people how government wins the class war for the people if they put the correctly motivated and ideologically aligned democrats into power at the local, state and federal level and return the GOP to being a minority opposition party with out the political power to harm this nation.

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