Obama, regardless of the personality and political approach he displays on any given day, keeps running into the same wall of insurmountable opposition. The cold, hard reality is that the president is trapped in a very frustrating box: He realizes that the vast majority of Congress is as impervious to his pressure as it is his charm. He is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t — and he knows it, several of his friends tell us. …

Obama advisers see at least three options:

1. Work like hell to flip the House.

The only way to get big things done in a divided Congress is to control everything, like Obama did for his first two years. Democrats would need to net 17 House seats, a near impossibility for an incumbent president’s party in the so-called six-year itch year. The forecast from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball project at the University of Virginia Center for Politics lists only seven of the nation’s 435 House districts as true tossups. The analysis points to an amazing stat that explains a lot about Capitol Hill gridlock: Just 26 House members — 17 Democrats and nine Republicans — represent districts won by the other party’ presidential candidate, and many of the members in those crossover districts are not particularly vulnerable.

2. Fight like hell for immigration — and issue lots of executive orders.

David Plouffe — architect of Obama’s first presidential race and a senior adviser in the White House for the first term — is cautiously optimistic about immigration since it seems to be in a very different place politically than gun control was. “Passing immigration reform would be a ringing start to a second term,” Plouffe said.