It was hard not to smile when Paul Ryan blamed unexpected turnout in "urban areas" for snatching an otherwise certain victory from Mitt and the Kid last November, even as we saw that same crazy vote also fetch the Dems six-year terms in the Senate races for Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota, all known as teeming liberal bastions. Obama winning twice now with solid electoral footing and the Senate shading more Democratic underscore how the GOP is holding the short stick on national issues. So how does it manage to cling stoutly to that House majority?
Well, we know it isn't because most Americans agree with the GOP's platform, policies, or neo-McCarthy binges, despite Boehner & Co. claiming such with straight faces. (About the Speaker we can say that what he at times lacks in sincerity, he makes up for in his inability to disguise it.) Rather, it's because the party's timing was exquisite in 2010, as it used Obamacare to rattle a fear-mongerable flock, seize control of more state houses across the nation, and set itself up for a sweep of the redistricting process. And now, far too many GOPers are in super-safe districts (in part by cramming Dems together like sardines in a jerrymandered can).
And that's why despite a growing preference from coast to cornfields to coast for the standard positions of the Dems, and demographic trends tilting further in their favor, the House is likely to remain in Republican't hands for another seven years. Unless...
Unless the Dems manage to come up with an intelligent, executable, and forge-ready plan to defend all of their turf and claw back enough House districts to grab a majority. What would that be? A two-year plan? A four-year campaign? Would it be a block-by-block strategy based on the actual incumbent and challenger, or building around promising voter specs in sets of districts, or using that privacy-invading yet effective data-mining game the Obama folks played in this past cycle? Something else? No one can say the Dems ran a serious enough national effort this last time around to put the gavel back into the Iron Grandma's hands. And coolly trying to ride the favorable demographic waves – cue the Fleshtones's "Right Side of a Good Thing" – could take, well, until 2020.
Steve Israel seems like a smart guy, but whether he led a soft battle plan, never aimed for recapture in the first place, or just faced an impossible task, he and the Dems have to break the slate and snag a clean, new, handy-as-an-iPhone one. Unless we want the headbangers' revue of the last two years to play out the whole decade in the Capitol, the time to start would be, uh, pronto.