The problem: Republicans used the once-a-decade redistricting process to shore up many of their members, leaving Democrats with few ripe GOP targets. Only four Republican incumbents are in seats that tilt toward Democrats — a fraction of the 17 seats Democrats need to net in order to seize the majority.

In fact, there’s reason to believe that the 2014 playing field favors Republicans: There are 15 Democrats representing GOP-leaning districts, so Democrats will need to invest heavily just to maintain their current membership in the House.

The daunting playing field is one of many challenges facing Democrats in 2014. Midterm elections are typically losers for the party in the White House. And outside conservative groups outspent Democratic ones 2 to 1 over the past two election cycles…

The results were apparent in the 2012 elections. The Cook Political Report has calculated that while House Republicans won just 49 percent of the popular vote, they managed to capture 54 percent of House seats. And despite losing the popular vote 51 percent to 47 percent, Mitt Romney won 227 congressional districts to Barack Obama’s 208.

“For Democrats, there are no easy gets,” said Brock McCleary, a former National Republican Congressional Committee deputy executive director.