President Obama told a Democratic fund raising event in April that he wants Nancy Pelosi back as Speaker of the House and vowed to do everything in his power to make that happen in the 2014 congressional election.
"She never lets ideology cloud her judgment," Obama told the crowd that produced an estimated $3.2 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's 2014 campaign coffers.
"It'd be a whole lot easier to govern if I had Nancy Pelosi as speaker," he said.
But 2012 election returns make clear that Obama and Democrats face an uphill battle to put the Speaker's gavel back in Pelosi's hands by defeating enough Republicans to regain the House majority they lost in 2010.
Republicans now 234 House seats, versus 201 Democrats. Twenty-nine of the seats were won by five points or less in 2010, making them 2014 targets. But even winning all 29 target races listed here won't do the trick for Pelosi.
That doesn't mean it won't happen. Five factors likely will determine who will control the 114th Congress: 1) candidate recruitment; 2) party favorability; 3) base intensity; 4) fund-raising; and 5) President Obama's job approval ratings.
Other races besides these 29 could become targets, too, but the basic handicapping begins with these 17 Democratic and 12 Republican vulnerable seats.
Click on any of these 29 districts on the accompanying map for vital information and data about each race. EXography will follow all of these races throughout the campaign season, but here are 10 that are of particular interest for political junkies (Note California 31 is included here because of the high likelihood it will be a Democratic pickup, but is not on the interactive map).
Utah 4 - A rematch from 2012, seven-term Rep. Jim Matheson, D, will again face Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, who fell just 769 votes short of winning their first match up. Matheson out-polled Obama by 17 points in 2012.
Illinois 10 - Republican former-Rep. Bob Dold, won this seat in 2010 when Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., ran for the Senate. Then Democrats redrew the district following the 2010 census and Obama carried it handily in 2012. Dold is hopes a more conservative off-year electorate that will return him to Washington.
California 52 - Democratic Rep. Scott Peters edged four-term incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray 51 percent to 49 percent in 2012, but GOP strategists think they can recapture the traditionally Republican district in 2014. Former city councilman Carl DeMaio, an openly gay Republican thinks he can win in blue California.
Illinois 13 - It's not everyday that an incumbent faces a primary challenge after less than one term in office, but black former Miss Americas don't run for Congress as Republicans every day, either. Rep. Rodney Davis won in 2012 by just over one thousand votes in 2012. Miss America 2003 winner Erika Harold, an attorney and Harvard Law grad, thinks she can take Davis in the Republican primary.
New Hampshire 1 - No race better demonstrates the on-year-off-year dynamic driving the 2014 battle for the House than New Hampshire's first congressional district. Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter first won the seat in her party's 2006 congressional sweep. Former-Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta then handily beat Shea-Porter in 2010 before Shea-Porter narrowly won the seat back in 2012 by less than 4 points. Can you say "Toss up?"
Massachusetts 6 - Nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney should have cruised to victory in 2012 in a district Obama won by 15 points in 2008 and 11 points in 2012. But his wife's 2010 admission to filing false tax returns in conjunction with an illegal gambling ring run by her two brothers still reverberates against Tierney.
Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei may challenge Tierney again a second time.
North Carolina 7 - Mitt Romney bested Obama by almost 20 points in North Carolina's 7th Congressional District, but Rep. Mike McIntyre, D, still beat State General Assemblyman Davis Rouzer by less than 500 votes. Without Obama on the ballot, Rouzer thinks he can defeat McIntyre and deny him a ninth term.
Florida 18 - Not only is 30-year-old freshman Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy the youngest Member of Congress, he also won the most expensive - nearly $30 million - House race ever in 2012. The man Murphy defeated, former-Rep. Allen West isn't running again, so Republicans need a top-tier recruit for a district won by Romney, 52-48.
California 31 - Seven-term Republican Rep. Gary Miller amazed California Democrats by winning an eighth term in 2012 after they redrew his district to heavily favor Obama. But California's new "jungle" primary system which advances the top two vote-getters regardless, split the Democratic votes, leaving two Republicans in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has Miller as their top target in 2014.
Arizona 2 - Former-Rep. Gabby Giffords, D, barely won it in 2010, so even before a tragic shooting led to her resignation, Republicans saw a chance to win this seat last time. Former Giffords Chief of Staff Ron Barber won the subsequent special election in June handily, then eked out a 2,000 vote win over retired Air Force colonel Martha McSally in the general election. Another McSally run might succeed without Obama at the top of the ticket.