Democrats planning for victory over the “six-year itch”

posted at 7:21 pm on February 15, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

For President Obama to have any hope of enacting any of his grandiose ambitions via legislation, getting rid of that pesky House Republican majority is going to be clutch — hence his sudden willingness to partner up with and fundraise for the Democratic campaign committees and finally act like a team player. It’s a long row to hoe, but the Democrats are at least sending out optimistic signals with the promise of the president’s popular support, via Politico:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expects that President Barack Obama will wield his national political machine on behalf of House Democrats in the 2014 campaign… DCCC Chairman Steve Israel wrote in a memo to his fellow lawmakers Friday. …

Israel stops short of pledging that the party will win the House, instead predicting his committee is on track to “continue defeating Republicans and to send the tea party to the dustbin of political history.” …

“In 2012, President Obama was completely focused on his own re-election, as he should have been. But for 2014, he will be able to focus on Congressional races, and he has already made early commitments that are unprecedented and transformational. President Barack Obama has agreed to eight events just in 2013 for House Democrats, with additional support from Vice President Biden and other surrogates,” Israel writes. “In addition, OFA’s ground game, which was a vital part of the Obama campaign’s success in 2012, will now be focused on Congress — energizing the critical ‘New American Electorate’ that we need to keep engaged through the 2014 elections.”

The fundraising for Obama’s nonprofit advocacy group is already well underway, with Team O courting his major campaign bundlers to keep the cash flow going strong — and part of the effort to get Democrats elected in the midterms will include keeping ground support mobilized and maintaining popular enthusiasm for Obama’s agenda in just the way that his erstwhile campaign machinery knows how.

As James Taranto writes, it looks like President Obama has pretty much given up on working constructively in a divided government, and is really setting his heart on beating the traditional six-year itch that keeps the president’s party at bay during his second round of midterms — but good luck with beating history on that one.

Of course unprecedented things do happen in politics. Never before 2010 had a party captured the House while leaving the Senate in the other party’s hands. And last year Obama became the first president to be elected to a second term with a smaller popular-vote total than in his first election. But the rarity of such occurrences suggests that they are the product of unusual or changed circumstances.

Do today’s circumstances point toward a precedent-shattering Democratic victory in 2014?

… Which means that to win the House in 2014, the Democrats would have to carry districts that not only sent Republicans to the House in 2012 but preferred Romney to Obama. If Obama is betting his presidency on a Democratic House in 2015-16, it’s a long shot.

Although, of course, we’ve underestimated Obama’s campaign machinery before — probably a good idea to take a little more heed this time:

At their first political conference meeting of the 113th Congress… GOP pollster Neil Newhouse told members to be on guard for Obama’s campaign machine. …

“His attention has gone from getting himself elected to keeping the majority in the Senate and winning the majority in the House,” Westmoreland said in an interview, paraphrasing his remarks. “They need to be prepared for him being involved, because he made it quite clear at their retreat that he wanted his last two years to be like his first two years and that means, of course, having Pelosi as the speaker.”


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