Israel says 2014 is Dems' year

CAMBRIDGE, Md. – According to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), 2014 is his party's year. 

In a closed-door briefing to House Democrats, the campaign chief painted a picture of favorable midterm political landscape. Israel argued that the combination of strong recruiting, a stark fundraising advantage and a popular policy platform gives the Democrats a real shot at defying the historical odds and winning back the House in November.

"In all the polling, on the issues that matter to the American people, we’re winning,” Israel told the lawmakers gathered on the Eastern Shore for their annual retreat, according to a source in the room.

Israel also announced that President Obama has committed to six fundraising events for the House Democrats – a dynamic that's sure to give a boost to the DCCC's already sizable campaign haul, which was $15 million more than the majority Republicans brought in last year.

History, though, is not on the Democrats' side, as the party of lame-duck presidents tends to fare poorly in off-year elections. The Democrats would need to pick up 17 seats to win back the Speaker's gavel from Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the GOP – a high bar, especially in light of Obama's dismal approval ratings and a small House battlefield.

Still, Israel noted that the Republicans' approval numbers, which have hovered around 10 percent, are also historic lows, suggesting Democrats will fight to exploit their opponents' unpopularity.

“Never in history has a majority run in a midterm election with a job approval at 12 percent,” Israel said, according to the entrenched source.

The Democrats are also banking that their continued emphasis on popular economic policies – including a hike in the minimum wage, an extension of unemployment benefits and comprehensive immigration reform – will distinguish them, in the eyes of voters, as the party of the working class.

Israel argued Thursday that the issue of retirements also favors the Democrats, as the Republicans will have roughly a dozen soon-to-be vacant seats to fill.

“It is a myth that retirements have hurt us," Israel said, according to the source. "When you look at the map, 11 Republican districts are now in play."

Obama, who is scheduled to address the Democrats in Cambridge on Friday morning, is expected to discuss similar themes.