How Many Seats Does The Democratic Party Need To Take The House? It Wouldn't Be Easy

Just a few months ago, the possibility of the Democrats taking the House months ago would have seemed like just a pipe dream even to the most hopeful. But now that Donald Trump is polling so poorly, some have suggested that there's a chance that Paul Ryan could lose his Speakership to a Democratic landslide this November. But exactly how many seats does the Democratic Party need to take the House? Like always, the number for a majority in the House of Representatives is 218, and currently the Dems trail that number by 30.

There are 435 total representatives, and they all stand for election every two years. That means the Democrats would need to win 30 more seats than they currently hold. Right now they have 188 and the Republicans have 247. If 30 shifted from the Republican column to the Democrat column, the make-up would be 218 to 217 — just a one-seat margin. But even that looks like a long shot.

Currently there are 182 safe Democrat seats according to RollCall.com, while the Republicans have 217 safe seats. That puts the Republicans within just one election of winning a majority, while Democrats would need to win all the Democrat-leaning races, all the toss-ups (races that are too close to call right now), and all of the Republican-leaning. That sounds nearly impossible — unless it isn't.

Polls have asked the question: "Would you vote for a generic Republican or a generic Democrat for Congress?" An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed that Democrats were winning by six points. According to The Washington Post that's one of the biggest leads they have had all year. But according to what a Democratic pollster told The Los Angeles Times, it's still highly unlikely. "It’s possible to imagine, but it’s unlikely," Mark Mellman told the paper.

For it to be possible, he estimates, Clinton would need to win by about 10 percentage points. Why so much? Redistricting. Andrew Prokop for Vox explained what that means. Essentially whatever party controls the most state houses at redistricting time, can tilt the odds in their favor. The GOP oversaw a lot of the 2011 and 2012 redistricting and Prokop gives this example:

For instance, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia, Republican candidates won between 49 and 53 percent of the House vote in each state, yet each state's congressional delegation ended up about 70 percent Republican.

That's because the party draws the districts so there are many that will elect someone from their own party, and few from the other party. Rather than having about the same amount of Republicans and Democrats in each district, they mess with the boundaries of the districts until it's ideal for them.

These realities don't seem to have limited Nancy Pelosi's hope, though. She said on a conference call Tuesday that if the election were held today, the Democrats would take back the House. What evidence she's pointing to is unclear, but winning 30 more seats than in 2014 will be quite the challenge.