Democrats recognize their vulnerabilities, and have put more of their own into the party’s growing Frontline Program, which is meant to protect members in danger of losing their seats. The program is designed to help junior members in marginal districts get a jump on fundraising and outreach to their districts.
Part of the Democrats’ mindset with the program is that the best defense is a good offense. By ramping up fundraising and organizing early, Democrats hope to dissuade GOP candidates from running.
The program has grown to 40 members for the 2010 cycle, up from 34 in 2008. Of those 40 Democrats, 18 are in districts that McCain carried last year. And of those 18, 11 members won last year with 55 percent of the vote or less.
Those Democrats are: John Boccieri (Ohio), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Parker Griffith (Ala.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) and Tom Perriello (Va.).
Republican sources also suggested that McCain underperformed in districts they consider Republican-leaning. That means they see more targets in districts Obama narrowly carried.
The NRCC also started this year on a better financial footing then the DCCC, though both are in debt. The DCCC ended 2008 with a debt of $16.4 million while Republicans closed out the year with $6.5 million in debt.
On the other side, Democrats acknowledge that they are facing long odds in 2010 and have downplayed expectations that they will pick up more seats.
“We recognize this is going to be a challenging cycle for House Democrats,” Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for the DCCC said. “The Republicans have history on their side.”
A party typically loses seats after a wave election, in which the party picks up 20 or more seats. Democrats have noted that 2008 was the first election in history in which a party that recaptured the majority two years earlier went on to pick up more than 20 seats.