From McConnell’s perspective, the White House will have to pare back its demands for tax increases if Republicans will concede the fight and risk the wrath from the right. And then President Barack Obama will need to give far more on cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security in order to get some GOP cooperation on tax rate hikes, Republican officials say.

McConnell almost certainly won’t try to jam Boehner by allowing a bill to pass the Senate that doesn’t have support among House and Senate Republicans, sources say. And Democrats believe that Boehner will have more leeway to cut a deal in the new year once he’s reelected speaker, though the Ohio Republican has said he’s not concerned his perch atop the House has been threatened by his handling of the fiscal talks.

Democrats also have good political reasons to hold out until after the New Year, when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.

Democrats are slated to increase seats in both chambers in the next Congress — with a robust 10-seat majority in the Senate, and the White House believes it has little incentive to cave to GOP demands ahead of the fiscal cliff.