Interested Parties
Kelly Ward, DCCC Executive Director
February 6, 2015
Path to Democratic Congressional Gains, Part One

On November 8th, 2016, millions of voters across the country will elect a new Congress. As
results pour in from Maine to California, one thing is certain: Democrats will gain seats.
This is not spin or bluster; it is a calculated analysis of the political landscape.
In 2014, Democrats were forced to play defense. But 2016 will be the polar opposite--Democrats
will be on offense. As shown below, a large bulk of House districts that will be in play are
Democratic or Democratic-leaning districts.
2016 Landscape
This cycle the national political atmosphere will benefit Democrats. President Obama’s approval
rating is up, unemployment is down, consumer confidence is up, and gas prices are down and all
indications point to continued improvement. This environment, combined with a relentless focus
on “middle class economics,” will drive a clear contrast with the Republican Party.
The Republicans now completely control Congress. No longer will voters be confused about who
is to blame for the dysfunction and gridlock of Washington: it will lie squarely on Republicans’
Being in complete control also means the American people will see the Republicans’ true
priorities. Which so far, has meant attacking 14-year-old children trying to make a better life for
themselves, risking our national security by threatening to shut down the Department of
Homeland Security, launching a culture war over women’s rights, and pursuing their Don
Quixote-esque quest to repeal a law that is helping millions.
And this doesn’t even begin to describe the internal civil war Republicans are experiencing every
day, along with the political circus that will be their presidential primary. If the front-running
presidential nominees are already sprinting to the right by debating whether or not children
should be vaccinated – and it’s only February – you know it will be a long, brutal campaign that
will pull every Republican candidate, from presidential to congressional and on down the ballot,
to the far ideological fringes.
Finally, historical trends show that during presidential election years, a larger and more diverse
electorate votes, including increased participation by the Rising American Electorate. This
always benefits Democrats, and the same will be true in 2016.

The Offensive Game Plan
Without question House Democrats will gain seats this cycle—the math is simply too compelling
to argue otherwise. And building the battlefield of these races begins with a large crop of
winnable House districts across the country.
 Republicans currently hold 26 seats in
districts that President Obama won in 2012. Right
off the bat that gives us a large list of vulnerable
Republicans in winnable districts.
 Additionally, Republicans hold 23 seats
where President Obama won at least 48% of the
vote in 2012, thus expanding the number of
battleground districts where Democrats can
 There are 15 districts that in 2014 the
Republicans won with less than 10 percent of the
vote. That means in 2016, when districts will see an
increased participation from the Rising American
Electorate, these districts will be extremely
competitive, providing even more opportunity for
Democratic gains.

While many Republicans will try to argue these points and claim they are on offense, every
major non-partisan political forecaster has said that Democrats will make gains in 2016.

Stu Rothenberg from the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report predicted “the most
likely House outcome next year would be modest to substantial Democratic gains,
ranging from as few as five to as many as 20 seats.”

Kyle Kondik from Sabato’s Crystal Ball stated “Our early expectation is that the
Democrats will net at least a few House seats in the 2016 election.”

The Cook Political Report wrote “Our initial outlook is a Democratic gain of between
zero and ten seats.”

Everyone agrees, it is not a matter of IF Democrats will gain seats, it is a matter of how many.


PART ONE: One-Term Wonders
While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is going to be active and aggressive
in each of these potentially competitive districts – nearly 70 districts around the country – our
first focus is on the “One-Term Wonders.”
These are 15 Freshman Republicans who were swept up in the electoral tsunami of 2014,
winning in a Democratic or battleground district but are clearly “out of step” with their
constituents, haven’t been properly vetted, won’t be able to win in the altered dynamics of 2016,
and start as some of our top targets this cycle.
AZ-02: Martha McSally – This was the closest race in the country last cycle, with McSally
winning by a mere 167 votes. McSally clearly doesn’t fit this district, and without the wave of
2014 she would not be in Congress today. Voters will hold her accountable in her district for
hiding her support for a budget that would have slashed Pell Grants and ended Medicare’s
guaranteed benefits.
FL-13: David Jolly – In 2012, President Obama carried this district with more than 50 percent
of the vote. Jolly has already tried to deceive Florida voters, claiming he wasn’t a lobbyist when
his own paperwork clearly said he did, and we’re sure he’ll try to deceive them again when
voters hold him accountable for being willing to risk Social Security in the stock market.
FL-26: Carlos Curbelo – In 2012, President Obama won this district with 53 percent of the
vote. We will make sure voters know that Curbelo his long record of voting to approve contracts
for his campaign donors, while supporting a budget that slashed hundreds of good-paying jobs
for middle class families in his district. Curbelo even recently endorsed Republicans suing
President Obama to stop immigration reform action.
IA-01: Rod Blum – President Obama won this district with a whopping 57 percent of the vote
and Blum couldn’t be more wrong for Iowans. He has a history of supporting efforts to raise the
Social Security retirement age and undermine the guarantee of Medicare by turning it into a
private voucher. He’s now spending his time as a surrogate for the Republican Presidential
candidates and palling around with Steve King, instead of representing his district.
IA-03: David Young – President Obama won 52 percent of the vote in this district in 2012.
Meanwhile, Young’s record includes exploiting legal loopholes to make as much money as
possible on top of his six-figure taxpayer funded salary, and taking trips to exotic locations
around the world all paid for by special interests.


IL-10: Bob Dold – President Obama won this district by more than 58 percent of the vote, and
it’s clear Dold knows he’s in trouble. Back in Congress for barely a month and he’s already
started trying to remake himself, hoping in vain that voters will forget the last time he was a
Freshman Member who voted 34 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and twice
rubberstamped a budget that slashed Pell Grants and would have ended guaranteed Medicare
IL-12: Mike Bost – President Obama carried this district in 2012. For Illinois voters, it’s no
surprise that Bost has already become part of the problem in Washington after spending more
than 20 years as part of the problem in Springfield, voting for Gov. George Ryan’s dishonest
budgets that underfunded Illinois’ pension funds.
ME-02: Bruce Poliquin – In 2012, President Obama won this district with 54 percent of the
vote. Poliquin simply can’t be trusted to look out for Maine families because he’s proved he’s
more interested in looking out for himself. This sense of craven opportunism helped Poliquin end
up on our Chameleon Watch list for his changing stance on issues important to voters.
NH-01: Frank Guinta – President Obama won more than 50 percent of the vote in this district.
No doubt Guinta will try to fool New Hampshire voters into thinking he’s not the same guy who
helped write budgets that would have ended guaranteed Medicare benefits or who voted to
defund Planned Parenthood.
NV-04: Crescent Hardy – Despite the fact that President Obama won this district with more
than 55 percent of the vote, Hardy has steadfastly defended Mitt Romney’s offensive “47
percent” comment. We are confident that the scrutiny that comes with a campaign will show
residents of this district that he is not fit to represent them.
NY-01: Lee Zeldin – President Obama carried this district in 2012 with more than 50 percent of
the vote. It is clear he is “out of step” with his district by favoring privatizing Social Security, an
issue that will play prominently this cycle.
NY-24: John Katko – In a district that President Obama carried by 58 percent of the vote, Katko
opposes a woman's right to choose and would even allow employers to deny coverage for
common forms of birth control. In this pro-choice district during a presidential election, this
extreme record will not stand.
PA-06: Ryan Costello – Costello has a history of looking out for himself and his friends –
voting to give himself a pay raise and supporting millions of dollars in government contracts to
political contributors.
TX-23: Will Hurd – Hurd won his election by a mere 2500 votes, and we are excited that Pete
Gallego is a strong possibility to run again. Hurd is clearly an outlier in his district, and someone
like Pete Gallego will drive a clear contrast.


VA-10: Barbara Comstock – At the same time Comstock was making money advocating on
behalf of special interests at her private consulting firm, she was pushing their priorities as a
member of the state legislature, proving she can’t be trusted to stand up for Virginia families
instead of the special interests. She also demonstrated her ideological extremism when she
backed legislation requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive transvaginal
As our first wave of targets, the DCCC will launch a targeted campaign focused squarely on each
of these members. The campaign will relentlessly and aggressively highlight to voters how “out
of step” each of these members are with their districts. They will be held responsible for the
rabidly right-wing agenda the House Republicans are pushing, for the gridlock gripping our
nation’s capital, and for the wrong priorities they are pushing at the cost of middle class families.
Now, of course our efforts don’t end with these 15 members. These are just the members who
will make themselves one-term wonders in the 2016 election.
As we continue forward there are other top targets – Republicans in Democratic-leaning seats,
“out of step” Republicans, untested Republicans, and already several competitive open seat
opportunities with undoubtedly more to come.
History, not hubris, tells us that we will pick up seats. But that doesn’t mean we can rest on our
heels and just assume the political winds will be sufficient for victory. We will stay focused on
holding the Republicans accountable, recruiting great candidates, creating opportunities, and
putting the House majority in play.