President Obama’s advisers have telegraphed their goal to win control of the House in 2014, which would give the president unfettered control to advance his favored policies. But the bigger concern for the White House should be the more realistic possibility that they could lose the Senate in 2014 – an outcome that’s only enhanced by the president’s second-term strategy focusing on rallying the base over centrist governance.
It’s no coincidence that on Wednesday, in a welcome about-face, Obama belatedly engaged a charm offensive with Republicans, inviting leading senators to a private dinner and pow-wowing with Paul Ryan for lunch on Thursday to discuss the budget. This, from the president who predicted that he would be able to work with the GOP only after he won reelection, arguing their “fever may break” upon his victory.
All of this is a result of the Republicans (unexpectedly) scoring twin victories in the battle over the sequester, getting their cuts all while pressuring the president’s popularity downward. The White House overreached in parading Cabinet secretaries to exaggerate doom-and-gloom consequences. And the public is demonstrating its frustration, handing Obama new lows in his job-approval rating since the election.