DCCC Chairman: 'We're doing everything we can' to put House in play in 2014

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said the committee is "doing everything we can to put [the House] in play” in 2014, the most bullish appraisal he has offered yet on Democrats' chances this cycle.

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“I'll let you know in a year whether we'll be north or south of 17 seats,” Israel told reporters at a briefing at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

But he added: “I can tell you we’re doing everything we can to put it in play.”

Democrats will need to net 17 seats to take back the majority in the House. Prior to Wednesday's briefing, Israel's appraisal of the party's chances for 2014 had been more cautious, following an election cycle in which Democrats failed in their explicit push to win back the House. 

Netting 17 seats remains a difficult proposition in a midterm year, when the president's party typically loses seats. But at the Wednesday meeting of lobbyists and interests groups supportive of the committee's work, Israel touted the DCCC's recruitment efforts as part of the reason flipping the House remains possible.

"We will win in 2014 in 2013,” he said.

Recruiting efforts began on election night, with Israel calling a handful of potential candidates who had previously chosen not to run, or candidates who lost, to express his interest in their candidacies.

In addition to the 32-member recruitment committee, Israel said he's brought on House committee ranking members to make phone calls to top recruits urging them to run.

Aside from the hands-on recruiting efforts, Israel said Democrats' data and their message will boost their chances in 2014.

Coming out of an election in which many of their turnout predictions were proven misguided, Republicans have pledged to close the data gap with Democrats in the coming cycle. But Israel said that for every inch Republicans gain in those efforts, Democrats will take a "quantum leap."

“They will not be able to catch up with us,” he said. “We are deploying new, exquisite cutting edge targeting and data technologies."

And though its a message that Democrats pushed in 2012, Israel believes focusing on the Tea Party and framing Republicans as obstructionists will resonate again with voters in 2014.

“2014 will be a referendum on Tea Party extremism. That’s the deal. That’s the campaign," he said.