Dem chairman: ‘It could have been worse’
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Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden looks for end to Democratic primary The bad record of this national crisis Can Joe Biden save the economy? MORE (D-N.Y.) says his group's actions helped stave off an even worse election night, after Republicans expanded their majority in the House.

"As Democrats lost the Senate and an avalanche of outside spending was directed late at the House, we protected Democrats in swing seats from Florida to Illinois to California and at least one Republican-held seat,” Israel said in a Wednesday morning statement. “In short, it could have been worse.

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"Without the hard work of the members of the caucus and the DCCC, Republicans might have reached the 29 seat gain typically won in a second-term midterm," he added.

Democrats have lost a dozen seats and counting, giving Republicans their largest House majority in more than a half-century.

Israel had remained stubbornly sunny about Democrats' prospects for much of the election cycle but weeks ago began acknowledging that his party might be in for a rough evening.

"I won't sugarcoat it — we always knew tonight would be a challenging night, and it was for Democrats at every level," he said Wednesday.

"But as tough as tonight was, we did everything in our control to narrow the Republicans' pick-up opportunities and limit their chance to take advantage of the wave."

The DCCC had been in triage mode for much of October, cutting spending on possible pickup seats to defend suddenly endangered incumbents.

Some held on, but others the DCCC stepped in for — including Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) — fell in spite of the committee's help.