The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How impossible is it for Democrats to win back the House? This impossible.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) listens as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks on Capitol Hill on Dec. 9 before Ryan signed legislation to change how the nation's public schools are evaluated, rewriting the landmark No Child Left Behind education law of 2002. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she thinks that with the right political winds — i.e. Hillary Clinton heading Democrats' presidential ticket in November — her party can take back control of the House, a position they haven't held since 2010.

Sure, it's within the realm of possibility — and especially this campaign cycle, we're not ruling out far-fetched ideas. But, to be sure, it is far-fetched.

The Cook Political Report came out with ratings Wednesday for how House elections are shaping up. The simple math: Just 33 seats out of 435 are truly competitive, including 27 held by Republicans and six held by Democrats.

For Pelosi's plan to work, Democrats would need to hold all six of their seats and pick up all 27 from Republicans — 12 of which the Cook team says "lean Republican." And even then it wouldn't be enough.

It's the latest evidence that a combination of Americans' polarization, the concentration of Democratic voters in fewer districts, and the GOP's overwhelming control over redistricting after the 2010 Census have made it a very tall task for Democrats to take back the House at any point this decade.

Or even, for that matter, next decade. As Aaron Blake wrote in 2013:

What redistricting also did, though, was allow Republicans to draw very favorable state legislative maps. Those maps will also make it hard for Democrats to regain control of those chambers and, by extension, overhaul the existing GOP-friendly maps at both the state and congressional levels.
Nobody is saying Democrats can't win back the U.S. House in the coming years, but most everyone agrees that it's significantly more difficult today than it was before and that Democrats need a sizable wave to do it. In fact, they would need to win as much as 55 percent of the popular vote, according to the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, something neither party was able to achieve even in the wave elections of 2006, 2008 and 2010.
So, Democrats have little control, which makes it harder for them to gain control. And until they gain back control -- at least long enough to draw new maps -- it will be difficult for them to get anything resembling consistent majorities.
The numbers tell the story.