The top executive of the Democratic Party committee charged with winning control of the House predicted victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections, projecting confidence as President Trump and other Republican leaders try to seize on a growing economy and immigration fears to save their majority.
“We’re going to win the House,” said Dan Sena, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, echoing the confidence of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who made a similar prediction earlier in the week.
His Republican counterpart, National Republican Congressional Committee Executive Director John Rogers, predicted that voters would respond to fears of Washington gridlock and a moribund economy by spurning Democrats and saving the GOP House majority, albeit by a narrow margin.
“I expect that we may not know who has control of the majority on election night,” he said.
Both men spoke in interviews for an episode of C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” set to air Sunday. A Washington Post reporter participated in the questioning.
Sena’s prediction comes two years after top Democratic officials entered Election Day convinced that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton could not lose, based on the party’s “blue wall” in upper Midwest states. Clinton shockingly lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, and with them, the presidency.
But Sena said Democrats had multiple paths to victory Tuesday.
“There are probably 15 to 20 seats that the Democrats will certainly pick up. You then look at any of the seats that are toss-up or leaning our way, and there’s like another 20 of them,” Sena said. “I can’t tell you how all those seats are going to play out, but what I can tell you is, we are going to win some of them. That would give us a narrow majority. On a good night we could win a majority of them."
The Democrats' closing argument, he said, would remain trained on health care, while Rogers said Republicans are highlighting immigration to rouse their conservative base as well as a “resistance mob mentality” that would obstruct Trump’s agenda.
“Just the thought of Nancy Pelosi taking the House back and getting the reins of Congress and getting back to ruining this country,” he said. “I think that’ll be really motivational for our folks out there and should be if you’re a Republican.”
Sena said he was not concerned over Trump’s last-minute appeals to his base.
“Every time Donald Trump does something, there’s an opposite and equal reaction within the electorate,” he said. “I call it shaking the snow globe. . . . What we wanted to do was be in a place where we had the ability to fight to get to the majority regardless of what he did. So if he took races in South Carolina and West Virginia and was able to do something to put them away . . . there’s an equal reaction in California” that would help Democrats in those seats.
Democrats have been able to expand the House battlefield into dozens of seats that have not been competitive in previous cycles. That’s in part because individual Republican campaigns in key districts have been badly outraised by their Democratic challengers, which has forced national groups such as the NRCC and GOP super PACs to spend heavily to keep races competitive.
But Rogers said the effect of Democrats' cash advantage would ultimately be negligible. “At some point in time, TV gets saturated, the Internet gets saturated, your mailbox get full, and you just need to have enough money to compete in these races,” he said.