When the Democrats last lost the House of Representatives in 1994, it took them 12 years to regain it. But the Democratsâ ace in the hole nowadays is that this is a more volatile era in congressional politics, one where a swing of 25 to 30 House seats is par for the course.
That is about the number the Democrats would need to gain in 2012 to move from their current total in the low 190s to the 218 needed to control the House. If the political winds reverse direction, a pick up that size is certainly possible. The economy could improve. The war in Afghanistan could be winding down. And President Barack Obama could win a re-election victory two years hence that would provide coattail pull for the rest of the Democratic ticket.
All of this is within the realm of possibility. But the scope of the Republican gains this year gives the GOP a head start in controlling the playing field in 2012. Most of the House seats that Republicans gained this month were in friendly terrain and would be difficult for Democrats to win back in normal circumstances.
Unlike the Democrats in 2010, the Republicans should not have to defend many seats in hostile territory in 2012.