From Susan Page's USA Today interview with DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel, who likened the 2014 upcoming election to the situation Dems faced in 1998:
"It was very similar to the climate that we have now," Israel said. "The president gets elected, re-elected, in 1996. The Republicans in the House of Representatives make a decision to do everything they can to bring him down. ... They launched 35 separate, partisan, witch-hunt investigations -- and the Democrats won seats in the second midterm election of the Clinton presidency; won five seats."
Democrats need to pick up 17 House seats to regain the control they lost to Republicans in 2010. Israel says there are 52 House seats "in play." The non-partisan Cook Political Report now identifies 37 Democratic-held seats and 30 Republican-held seats as competitive or potentially competitive.
One big target for Democrats: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who for a time sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 but only narrowly held on to her House seat in November. She faces a rematch against businessman Jim Graves. Israel said a campaign poll taken last week by the firm PPP for the Graves campaign put him ahead of Bachmann, 47%-45% -- within the margin of error of 4.4 percentage points but a sign of a close contest.
In the interview, Israel adds ""If the economy shows signs of health, then I think we have a much better climate in which to win the House." In addition, Rachel Weiner reports at The Fix that Dems have a 48-40 edge in generic ballot preference, according to the latest WaPo/ABCNews poll.