By Justin Sink - 11/05/12 01:06 PM EST
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) conceded Monday that Democrats faced an "uphill battle" in their quest to win back the House, but downplayed the notion that President Obama had not provided strong enough coattails to aid Democratic congressional candidates.
"We realize we have an uphill battle with respect to getting to 25," Van Hollen told CNN. "But this is an election where the country is very closely divided. That's what we're seeing across the board. The good news is while they're divided, they're still giving the president an edge, especially in the battleground states."
The Maryland lawmaker said Democratic candidates did benefit from voter skepticism about Mitt Romney and his economic plan, although he conceded "we don't know exactly what the outcome will be."
Van Hollen also predicted that Democrats would benefit from an electorate that looked demographically different from that of two years ago, when the party suffered massive losses in Congress.
"The turnout is bigger and the mix of voters is very different than 2010, and you have a couple other major differences," Van Hollen said. "One is the economy has shown steady improvement since 2010. We're not where we want to be, but we certainly don't want to go back to the policies that crashed the economy to begin with. Number one. Number two, voters have seen exactly what the uncompromising Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives are all about."
Van Hollen added that the president would be boosted by his support for the auto bailout in the Upper Midwest, and by Mitt Romney's low poll numbers among Latinos in states like Colorado and Nevada.