DCCC Says Syria Is Not An Election Issue

Steve Israel doesn't expect 2014 to be referendum on Syria.

"2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria," Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the DCCC, seen here at an earlier intelligence briefing, told reporters Tuesday.

"2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria," Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the DCCC, seen here at an earlier intelligence briefing, told reporters Tuesday.

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The man tasked with taking back the House of Representatives for the Democrats in 2014 sees Syria as a blip on the radar, not an all-consuming electoral game changer.

"2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. "It is so fluid right now. I cannot imagine voters waking up in one year and two months saying they are going to cast their vote on Syria."

[READ: House on Track to Vote Against Syria Resolution]

Political Analyst Kyle Kondik, an elections expert at the University of Virginia, agrees.

"While Syria seems like a really big deal now, it strikes me as unlikely that it will matter a ton in 2014," he says. "In order for it to be important, one has to bet on the American people having longer memories than they usually have."

Democratic leaders like Israel have been forced to walk a fine line between supporting their president and giving their rank-and-file members room to decide for themselves whether striking Syria is a wise foreign policy calculation.

On the campaign front, the question becomes ever more fraught with peril as vulnerable Democrats must weigh the political costs of voting "yes" for a conflict that is overwhelmingly unpopular among the American public or voting "no" and risking losing favor with their president.

"They love the president, but they love themselves more," Israel said, riffing off one of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's token phrases. "At the end of the day, they are going to do what they believe makes the most sense for themselves and their districts."

Israel believes more than 50 seats are in play in the House, and says that candidates' abilities to articulate the Affordable Care Act and outline an economic vision will be far more important to winning those races than talking up Syria.

"The DCCC has no opinion, no calculation, we are emphatically neutral on this issue. Our job is to win elections not to shape foreign policy and national security," Israel says, while wearing his DCCC hat. As an individual member, however, like others in his leadership, he supports a strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

[ALSO: Kerry, Hagel Get Earful From House on Syria]

The political calculations may shift again in upcoming weeks since members may not be forced at all to take a stance on the record.

Tuesday morning, Russia announced Syria would turn over its chemical weapons to the international community, a move President Barack Obama applauded. Obama went as far as to say if the weapons were turned over completely, a strike many not be necessary at all.

But if the Obama administration finds that Syria cannot be taken seriously, the president will have a hard time finding the votes he needs for a strike in Congress.

In the Senate, the vote was delayed to give the president more time to make his case and in the House, the Washington Post's vote counter showed a majority of the House was voting 'no' or leaning that way.

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