The Other 2012 Fight: Who Gets the House?

Strategists from both sides of the aisle tell us why their party will be in charge come November.

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Parties of Boehner (left) and Pelosi will battle in November. (B. Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

When Republicans picked up 63 House seats in the 2010 midterm elections, they didn't just wipe out the previous Democratic majority. They pulled off the largest congressional sweep since 1948.

"It was a message from voters, that they were rejecting the big-government agenda pursued by Democrats in Washington during the first two years of Obama's presidency," said Paul Lindsay, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, citing the $831 billion stimulus bill and health care reform as failed polices spurned by the nation. "Americans were fed up with how Democrats were running Washington and how they were spending their money."

Meanwhile, the campaign arm of House Democrats was left battered and bruised. "It's always hard to have a tough election night, and it took a little time for folks to get back up off the mat," said Jesse Ferguson, national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He said that they have since dusted themselves off and are armed with a viable strategy for winning a majority of House seats come November.

"Fifteen months ago, no one thought that we'd even be within striking distance of that," Ferguson acknowledged. "But the combination of Republicans' increasingly toxic agenda, and strong efforts that we've made on behalf of Democrats, has really turned the tide."

Not that Republicans are shaken by this newfound confidence. In fact, they are equally assured by their own strategy for not only maintaining the Republican House majority but also widening it. In interviews with The Root, campaign leaders from both parties explained why they think their team will be in charge after the next election.

The Pulse of America

To understand why the Democrats are positioned to take back the House, Ferguson suggested looking to history. "Since 1900, Republicans have had a majority of 241 seats or more five times," he said. "Each time they've had that, they've lost an average of 48 seats the next election. We need to win 25."

Ferguson explained this historical trend as the result of Republicans who, emboldened by a sizable majority, embrace an agenda that's more radical than what most voters actually want. This Congress, he said, has squeezed itself into that same ineffective mold.

"The American people voted in 2010 for a Congress that they thought would focus on job creation and protecting the middle class. What they got was a Congress that looks out for the ultra-wealthy, looks out for big oil companies and is willing to turn Medicare into a coupon," said Ferguson, referring to the House's recent passage of the Paul Ryan budget, which would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, reduce the corporate tax rate and restructure Medicare as a block grant to states. "We see, in poll after poll, this deep sense of buyer's remorse that's set in with voters."

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