The numbers still show an uphill struggle for the Democrats if they are to retake the house — they need a pick-up of 15 seats, which is a pretty tall order. National Journal suggests that the Dems have done better than expected with recruiting candidates for second-tier seats, though — and expresses some surprise that approval ratings for Congress now are lower than those for the last Democratic Congress were at this point in 1994. I thought that part was pretty well known; and of course, while Clinton was tremendously unpopular in many parts of the country then, his ratings were still above the 33 percent that Bush now claims. (Clinton was at 47 percent nationally in November 1994.)
The National Journal story explains what the Democrats' second-tier success might mean:
In our current list of the top 50 House races, we've had a hard time ranking slots 20 through 50 because of the relative success of the Democrats' tier-two recruiting.
At some point, if the GOP numbers get worse, none of us will be calling these second-tier races. But flash back one year and not one of those four was seriously on anyone's radar.