The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen during sunrise in Washington on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. (Jacquelyn Martin – AP)

Paul Kane and I report in Sunday’s Washington Post on what many in Washington now believe: That Democrats hold almost no chance of winning back the House.

As we write:

The outlines of a comeback for Democrats seemed possible. From its opening act, the 112th Congress was dominated by a raucous class of House freshmen who pushed Washington to the brink of several government shutdowns and almost prompted a first-ever default on the federal debt. It became the most unpopular Congress in the history of polling and, by some measures, the least productive.

Analysts cite several factors why the Democrats haven’t been able to take advantage. First was a redistricting process that made some Republicans virtually impervious to a challenge and re-election more difficult for about 10 Democrats. A few Democratic incumbents have stumbled in their first competitive races in years. And Republicans have leveraged their majority into a fund-raising operation that has out-muscled the Democrats.

Critically, “That means that regardless of who wins the White House, the Republican caucus of Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) will remain a critical player in the coming showdowns over tax and spending cuts.”

The story draws on stops Paul and I have made in recent weeks in Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania. Read the full story here, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.