CHARLOTTE, N.C. — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi isn't a mathematician, but on Wednesday she shared with reporters an intricate arithmetical formula that shows a "very doable" path for Democrats to win back the House in the November elections.
Most political observers and race forecasters predict Democrats will pick up only a handful of the 25 seats needed to recapture the chamber from Republicans. But the California Democrat, while speaking at a breakfast news briefing Wednesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, said the task is "very doable." Her victory plan hinges. on the 63 Republican-held House districts that then-Sen. Barack Obama carried four years ago. Democratic candidate Sen. John F. Kerry carried 18 of those 63 districts in 2004, and Mrs. Pelosi says her party should win at least 12 this year.
And of the 45 remaining seats, she said that, conservatively, her party should win one-third, or 15 seats. If her math proves true, the pickup would be 27 seats — two more than needed to win the House.
Republicans still control another 177 House seats — many of which are in solid conservative districts where Democrats have almost no hope of winning. But Mrs. Pelosi suggested that some, particularly seats won by tea party freshmen, are ripe for the Democratic picking — promising an "assault on their districts where they, shall we say, are ethically challenged."
"Many of these people were not vetted when they ran for office [in 2010], and so we feel we had prospects that can take us higher than that," she said.
As for which states pose the best opportunity for Democratic gains, Mrs. Pelosi predicted the party is poised to win at least two seats in Texas, four to-six in California, up to six in Illinois and at least six in New York.
Other states where Democrats can pickup seats include Maryland, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
She said Democrats also collectively can pick up 10 or so seats in presidential battleground states Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as Democratic-leaning states, such as Michigan and Minnesota.
Democrats still must protect 191 seats they already occupy. But Mrs. Pelosi said most Democrats who won in 2010 despite facing a historic Republican wave should be in good shape this year.
"However, we watch our races and we have to win them, and if we don't, we have to make up for it," she said.
The minority leader vowed an aggressive "mano-a-mano, door-to-door, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, precinct-to-precinct, district-to-district" campaign approach.
"It's a very intense grass-roots operation. We are not ceding one grain of sand," she said. "We've out-raised them, we've out-districted them … we've out-recruited them."
And while House Republican candidates have raised more money from outside groups such as political action committees and so-called super PACs, Mrs. Pelosi said she "feels pretty good about our ability to have the resources we need in a finite number of seats to net 25."
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Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
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