updated 7/19/2013 12:17:27 PM ET 2013-07-19T16:17:27

Democrats believe these GOP members are vulnerable on immigration, while Republicans think the delay to health care implementation is another winning strategy for them in 2014 in key swing districts.

In 2010, Republicans rode a political wave of discontent over healthcare to control of the House. In 2014, with hurdles over the implementation of the law this year, the GOP hopes to capitalize on that sentiment again, especially as polls show a majority of Americans still disapprove of the president’s signature legislative achievement. Last month’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed just 37% of the public thinks the law is a good idea, versus 49% saying it’s a bad idea.

But Democrats see their path forward differently. With Republicans routinely blocking legislation in the House and deep fissures even within the GOP caucus, they believe voters will punish Republicans for Congress’ dysfunction, especially if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform—which not just a majority of voters want but is crucial to reaching out to a growing bloc of Hispanic voters.

The fight for the House lies somewhere between these two philosophies: immigration vs. healthcare. While messaging and the ultimate outcome of these battles will be set in the coming months, here’s some key players in important swing districts to watch on both issues that each side will use to drive home the message they think is a winning one.

Five Republicans to watch on immigration

Rep. Gary Miller, California’s 31st District: Miller is number one on both parties’ list for the most vulnerable incumbent of 2014. He represents the most Democratic district currently held by a Republican—President Obama won 57% here in 2012—and thanks to a top-two primary fluke he faced only another Republican on the November ballot. Democrats have a primary fight here brewing between Democrat Pete Aguilar, the DCCC’s endorsed candidate who failed to make the runoff in 2012, but ex-Rep. Joe Baca and others are in too. Still, Miller’s far more likely than not to have a Democratic opponent.

Democrats are hitting him on immigration already too, with House Majority PAC up with Spanish-language ads against him and earlier this week videos disappeared from his website where he opposed immigration reform in the past in this district with a 44% Latino voting age populations.

Rep. David Valadao, California’s 21st District. Valadao represents one of Democrats’ biggest recruiting disappoints in 2010 in their failure to get a top tier candidate in a district that Obama ended up winning with 55%. Democrats still need a recruit here, and it should be a top target, but Valadao has sounded quite a different tone on immigration than some of his GOP colleagues and has sounded optimistic to a compromise and comprehensive reform.

Rep. Jeff Denham, California’s 10th District. It’s no accident there are three California seats both parties are watching closely for immigration votes. Denham’s district is 35% Hispanic and growing with a nearly 50% minority population. He survived a tough challenge in 2010 against a vaunted Democratic recruit, former astronaut Jose Hernandez, and now Democrats are talking up a beekeeper Michael Eggman.

Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado’s 6th District. The showdown between Coffman and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Denver suburbs will be costly and bitter. Immigration will be a top flashpoint in this district with a growing Latino population. Republicans will point to Romanoff’s votes in the state House for a strict immigration bill, while Democrats will make Coffman’s past opposition to the DREAM Act a sticking point. Coffman is another target of ads on immigration from House Majority PAC.

Rep. Joe Heck, Nevada’s 3rd District. This two-term Republican’s district has a growing Latino and immigrant community. National Journal took a look at the squeeze he faces in a district where Obama just narrowly won “[Immigrant leaders] are urging Heck to back citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, while equally outspoken GOP supporters are pushing him to challenge birthright citizenship.” Coffman is another target of ads on immigration from House Majority PAC.

Five Democrats to watch on Health care

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona’s 1st District. Kirkpatrick won a close election in 2012 just two years after losing her seat in the 2010 GOP wave, but Republicans will keep using her initial vote in favor of comprehensive health care reform, even if she did vote to delay employer and individual mandates this week. This is one of seven seats that has voted GOP at the presidential level the past three cycles but is still held by a Democrat that the NRCC is making a focus.

Rep. Ron Barber, Arizona’s 2nd District. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ former chief of staff won this district in a special election to replace her, and a subsequent closer-than-expected general election race against former Air Force pilot Martha McSally. The branch’s first female fighter pilot in history, McSally has just announced again and both sides expect a close race. Barber also voted to delay the health care mandates this week but has voted against repeal.

Rep. Carol Shea Porter, New Hampshire’s 1st District. Like Kirkpatrick, Shea-Porter voted for health care and lost re-election in 2010. She won a rematch in 2012, but she’s a top target yet again in this Granite State swing district, and the NRCC is touting a robo-poll that showed her 2012 opponent, former Rep. Frank Guinta, narrowly ahead in a close race.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, Florida’s 18th District. This freshman Democrat beat GOP firebrand Allen West last year, and Republicans desperately want to win back this seat that Mitt Romney actually carried in 2012. Murphy voted with Republicans to delay the employer mandate, but his opponents will quickly point out that despite holding a swing seat, he didn’t vote for repeal earlier this year.

Rep. Collin Peterson, Minnesota’s 7th District.  This 12-term Democrat and ranking member on the Agriculture Committee is one of the seven seats that continue to vex Republicans, another one that has voted GOP in the past three presidential cycles. Peterson’s the subject of retirement rumors, and state and national Democrats know his seat is likely gone if he doesn’t run again, but in order to beat him if he runs, Republicans still lack a top recruit. Peterson voted against the original Affordable Care Act in 2010. But that doesn’t mean Republicans won’t try to hang the bill’s unpopularity around his neck, and point out he’s voted against repeal, though he also voted to delay the mandate implementations.

Video: Next six months in Congress may determine parties’ success in midterm elections

  1. Closed captioning of: Next six months in Congress may determine parties’ success in midterm elections

    >> up. to politics and fight to frame next year's election. whether there will be any political repercussions in two s is in 201 4 remains to be seen. policy battles will probably frame the debate. republicans want to make 2014 about health care implications. democrats are hoping to make 2014 about other issues. maybe obstructionism. but is the public even listening? in 2006 , it was apger anger over the iraq war . in 2010 , it was anger over the economy. 2014 , will it be anger that gets people to the polls or passive anger? anger at the ballot box or anger by not going to the ballot box . the assumption is 2014 will be status quo. this week's vote on the health care mandates gave us a glimpse of the 24 democrats who self-selected themselves as the most vulnerable incumbents. as for the republicans , there are 17 seats that obama carried in 2012 . another 20 where obama narrowly lost by two points or less. another 26 who consistently voted with john boehner when he's had to bring votes to the floor that upset conservatives. a total of 83 seats where members perhaps are feeling so much pressure from swing vote politics. republicans rode a political wave of discontent over health care to take control of the house. gop hopes to capitalize on that sentiment again, especially as polls show a majority of americans still disapprove of the president's signature legislative achievement. democrats see their path forward differently with republicans routinely blocking legislation in the housing and deep fissures even within the gop conference. especially if they fail to pass immigration reform . which not just a majority of voters want but strategists know is crucial to reaching out to a growing bloc of hispanic voters. the fight lies somewhere between these two philosophies. joining me now is the democratic congressional campaign committee chairman new york congressman steve israel . and the national republican congressional campaign chairman. it's a political junky stream. thank you, both. good morning. i just am curious, both of your responses, you guys are not michigan guys but, you know, you grew up in new york, new york went through this in the '70s where they almost filed for bankruptcy.

    >> you're right, new york in the 19 0s was on the verge of collapse. remember that "daily news" article, new york drop dead .

    >> issues, the wealthy left, nobody knew what new york was going to be. government corruption . all sorts of issues.

    >> and rebuilt. kay out better than ever. detroit will as well.

    >> it's a sad i do for detroit and michigan but i think it's also an example what happens when government runs amuck and tries to take on too much. it promises more than it can deliver. and this is the logical outcome. from a financial standpoint. i think other states and communities are facing this. frankly, the national government 's facing it.

    >> it's going to be an interesting conversation that i think -- you talk to mayors. doesn't matter their party. you talk to governors. they whisper about this pension problem. they don't want to talk about it publicly.

    >> chicago's another place, you know, illinois. they're on the edge. we've had other cities come right up to the brink or go other.

    >> if you're a mayor you have to balance your budget. you can't eject ideology in everything. can take a lesson from mayors who have to be about compromise and getting it done and not about ideology and partisan.

    >> ah, look at this.

    >> the irony is, house republicans the only one who offered up a budget that actually balances in ten years and pays off the debt. there wasn't an alternative presents by the democrats thatter balances fully in ten years.

    >> i want to talk about this larger issue. about what is 2014 going to be about. you saw the way i thought perhaps the way this is going to get fraped. you're the incumbent here. so i'll let you say. what do you think 2014 will be about? you're defending a majority. he's trying to grab if.

    >> sure. i think there's a number of things. it's ultimately jobs and the economy. you have 12 million americans still looking for work. we know as the president's health care law begins to take effect there are companies as widely respected -- as respected as weigeman's that are now reducing hours for people that used to work nearly full time . are now being reduced to under 30 hours to avoid the potential the employer --

    >> were they ever going to offer health care at 35 hours?

    >> whether they were or weren't, the point, if you're a struggling person out there trying to make ends meet and provide for your family, does having your hours get cut back help or hurt your situation. and frankly when you're getting cutback under 30 hours, knnow you're probably looking for two part-time jobs that don't offer those benefits. i think economy and jobs is paramount in terms of the voter's minds. creating really good paying jobs. we all ought to be focused on that together.

    >> what say you? how will you frame it?

    >> on everything that greg mentioned, jobs, the economy, health care , wages. you need one thing. you need solutions and compromise. this republican congress has been about extremism, obstructionism. they find excuses not to do things. whether it's health care . they're not interested in improving health care . they've had what is it 39 votes to repeal the entire thing. immigration, you have 68 senators on a bipartisan basis passed it. comes to the house of representatives , all they do is find excuses to obstruct it. there is a thirst, particularly in districts we have to win, an unquenchable thirst for one thing, compromise. we're going to put that compromise on the ballot in 2014 .

    >> talk about the next six months and perhaps what your party ends up doing is at cross purposes with what you guys want to do. you got into hot water is some republicans when you were critical of the idea of republicans signing on to the president's compromise on social security and cpi. said, hey, we'll run against obama on that. so here was something your party was going to negotiate with then and you were like, no, this is a political thick and it came across.

    >> a bit of a policy thing.

    >> i ask you, no, i understand it, but --

    >> you know, i think we also said we're not going to go after existing seniors, reduce their income. it reinstituted bracket creep in the tax brackets . a bibarn group got rid of because it would put you into a higher tax bracket and then you'd pay more than you were getting in terms of a salary increase. that was done away with. cpi would put that into the tax code . that was half of the total revenue.

    >> but i guess are you -- if you want to talk about this administration, this term -- i was going to go -- i have the same question for him on immigration.

    >> no, i'm going to go to obama care because you raised that. every one of the targets that we have, and you said this in your opening, that theme got to go defend. define their president who issued a veto threat, i legally delaying the employer mandate. all those folks voted with republicans the bipartisan way to send a message. as max baucus said, is a train wreck and needs to be refigured, repealed, waver you want to do, fix. some of the votes have had overwhelming bipartisan support and we actually repealed the reporting requirement. we had 85 amendments when this was considered that were never allowed by the democrats to be voted on on the house floor.

    >> if the president cuts a deal and gets a deal, bipartisan deal with the republican house on immigration reform , doesn't that undercut the message that you just said about they won't work with the president, they won't do obstruction, they give him basically a second signature piece of domestic legislation in the first year of his second term?

    >> good policy is good politics. what is in our interest is in the country's illness. a solution, a compromise. i've looked at this every which way. people want a compromise. united states senate , 68 senators came together in a compromise. as far left as elizabeth warren . if it can work in the senate, if bush and obama can agree on it, why can't house republicans let us at lead vote? vote yes, vote no, but let us vote.


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