Exactly three months ago today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) boasted that it would be “nearly impossible” for his Republican caucus to lose its majority this year – or at any point in the coming decade.
Does Boehner believe his majority is secure because House Republicans are responsible lawmakers who’ve impressed the American electorate and earned voters’ trust? Not exactly. As the Speaker explained in late January, House GOP incumbents will simply keep winning because state Republican officials have drawn congressional boundaries in such a way as to guarantee the party’s success, whether Republicans do an awful job in Washington or not.
Three months later, Boehner’s confidence appears to have waned, at least a little.
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said on Monday that Republicans had a one-in-three chance of losing control of the House in November, a surprisingly downbeat assessment from a Republican leader who until now has expressed no fears of losing the gavel.
In an interview with Fox News, to be shown on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner delivered what aides called a wake-up call to his troops.
“I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that we win control of the House again, but there’s a one-in-three chance that we could lose, and I’m being myself, frank,” he said in an interview first posted online by the newspaper The Hill. “We’ve got a big challenge, and we’ve got work to do.”
He’s come a long way since that “nearly impossible” assessment in January.
It’s worth noting that it’s difficult to gauge Boehner’s sincerity. It’s possible, if not likely, that the Speaker is worried about his party’s election-year fundraising, and by telling a Fox News audience that the GOP’s majority is in jeopardy, he may be trying to boost donations while combating complacency.
Of course, Boehner is also inadvertently giving Democrats a morale boost, letting rank-and-file Dem voters know that their own majority is within reach.
Regardless, Democrats face an uphill fight: they’ll need a net gain of 25 seats in November, and the post-Census redistricting process has rigged the game in Republicans’ favor. That said, recent polling shows most voters want a Democratic majority; Congress’ wretched approval rating is a recipe for volatility, and both the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee believe a Dem majority is in reach this year.