By happy coincidence, the new Speaker of the House and much of the Republican leadership of the House represent districts in swing states. And while their districts likely will remain safe after redistricting, I hope the Democrats spend the time recruiting candidates and spend the money running ads against Republican leadership.
This accomplishes a few things: first it pushes them to moderate their stances. If they know there will be a serious challenge from people to their left, they’ll have to think before kowtowing to the teaparty activists in their midst. So perhaps we’ll see awful legislation turned slightly less awful if the people charged with passing it through the House fear for their own seats.
It also means we can play offense in states that Obama is going to need to carry. Every crazy bill passed through the House gets a nice ad in Ohio and Virginia calling it out, and lays blame on Boehner and Cantor. We get to have a conversation about the awful things the republicans do in areas of those states that perhaps don’t often have those conversations. This will help Obama win in Ohio by having a conversation, by getting media for the Democrat’s position, and if the downticket races look competitive recruit volunteers.
Best (although least likely) of all, we might pick up some seats. Yes, Boehner got 2/3 of the vote last year. But every district in the country gets redistricted, so last cycle’s results are only so telling. And Democrats haven’t given these districts a test in a long time, so it’s not as out there as you might think.