Boehner’s warning

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) raised a few eyebrows on Monday when he said there is a 1-in-3 chance that Democrats will regain control of the House in November.  

Boehner’s track record on electoral predictions is mixed. In the spring of 2008, he said, “I think we are going to gain seats this year. Period.” Democrats picked up two dozen seats that year.

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In April of 2010, Boehner said there were “at least 100 seats” in play. Democrats ridiculed the comment, but his assessment proved to be dead on. Republicans subsequently gained 63 seats, making Boehner Speaker.

Holding on to the gavel in 2012 will not be easy. Boehner is worried about targeted Republicans in blue states, including Illinois, California and New York.

He is also concerned about fundraising, and he should be. Despite being in the minority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2011.

This election year, most of the focus will be on the battle for the White House and the Senate. Boehner’s warning was a clear message to Republican donors: Don’t forget about us.

Of course, Boehner’s comments to Fox News have already been used as a rallying cry for Democratic donors as well. In essence, DCCC officials made this pitch: We’re closer, but we need more money to close the deal.

The chances of Democrats winning the House are slim, according to history. Only once since World War II has the party in the White House gained more than 15 House seats in a presidential election year, and Democrats need 25 to run the lower chamber in 2013.

Still, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) contend their odds are greater than Boehner says. They maintain it’s better than 50-50 that Democrats will win the House.

It should be noted that Pelosi repeatedly said that Democrats would not lose the House in 2010. And President George W. Bush six years ago incorrectly predicted that Republicans would keep control of both chambers of Congress.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle sometimes can’t openly say what they are really thinking. Pelosi knew the House was lost two years ago, and Bush was well-aware that at least one chamber was going to fall to the Democrats.

Pelosi and Bush both had to keep the faith publicly because doing anything less would have been a devastating blow to fundraising efforts.

Boehner’s prediction certainly was directed at donors, but it also revealed the Speaker is looking over his shoulder.