NRCC, promising to 'stay on offense,' targets seven Dems

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The memo points out that Mitt Romney carried 227 districts while President Obama won 208, a statistic that illustrates how difficult it will be for Democrats to capture enough House seats to retake control of the upper chamber. Much of that advantage came from successful Republican redistricting efforts after the 2010 election.

"As a result of redistricting, which favored Republicans, and this well-executed [offensive] strategy — the House is well-aligned and firmly in GOP control," Hickey writes. "The national map of competitive House races looks very different headed into 2014. Namely, it’s smaller and Republicans have the upper hand."

The memo then points out that just four Republicans hold Democratic-leaning seats, while 15 Democrats sit in similarly Republican seats, and lists 40 potentially vulnerable Democratic seats.

Barrow, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson and Rahall all survived the 2010 GOP wave. Barrow, Matheson and McIntyre were also top NRCC targets in 2012 after their districts were made much more conservative in redistricting, though McIntyre and Barrow might have tougher races this time because high African-American turnout in 2012 helped them both, and Barrow faced a deeply flawed candidate last election.

Rahall won a closer-than-expected race in 2012, and is the only surviving House Democrat in Appalachia. Peterson has easily held onto his GOP-leaning seat, but if he retires it'd be a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans.