Might we see the return of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2013? She believes the pieces are in place.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats have a shot at taking back the House in 2012.

The former Speaker touted the diversity of the candidates the Democrats have recruited — “two generals, a colonel … legislators, small business people, mayors, many women and minorities” — and noted that the party, despite being the minority, has outraised the Republicans on the campaign trail this year.

“We have definitely put the House in play,” she said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

“From a political standpoint, we’re very proud of the recruitment of candidates — all with the determination to take us off the path that the Republicans have put us on,” she said.

I’m a firm believer in the notion that predictions a year out are a bad idea, since so many factors can and will change, perhaps more than once. But Pelosi’s comments are more than just a boast; there’s reason to think she’s right.

House Dems, who need a net gain of 26 seats next year to take back the House (it will be 25 if Dems win the upcoming special election in Oregon), have fared quite well in recent months, finding success both in recruiting and fundraising.

And then there are the polls. Congress’ approval rating, as is well known, has dropped to a stunning 9% — the lowest since the dawn of modern polling. That, in and of itself, makes electoral volatility rather likely, raising the possibility of the majority and minority swapping roles.

But Dems also fare well in generic ballots. The latest polls from NBC, Reuters, and National Journal all show Americans preferring a Democratic House majority to a Republican one, in margins ranging from two points to eight. When TPM averaged all of the generic-ballot polls, it found Dems with their first lead in nearly two years.

What’s more, the House Majority PAC commissioned surveys from Public Policy Polling in 12 vulnerable Republican districts, and also found Dems looking quite strong.

Like I said, a year is a long time in campaign politics, and there are plenty of variables — retirements, economic conditions, potential scandals, etc. — that are unpredictable. But we know this Congress is extremely unpopular, that Republicans have cast several votes that can come back to haunt (eliminating Medicare, for example), and that Dems have positioned themselves reasonably well to take advantage of the opportunity.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.