Many Democrats have not been pleased with President Obama’s lack of involvement or interest in both them and their campaigns over the past few years, and have been getting increasingly restive about it — but certain House Dems left their three-day retreat yesterday apparently feeling enervated by the White House’s announced commitment to various fundraising events with the DCCC and the DSCC in 2013, and the promise of even more in 2014 as the midterms get closer, reports The Hill:
House Democrats left their three-day retreat speaking of unity and voicing confidence that President Obama will help them win back a majority in 2014. …
“The president absolutely ignited the Democratic caucus by announcing this massive commitment,” crowed an ebullient Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The president, during a private session at the Lansdowne Resort on Thursday, pledged to host eight separate fund-raising events for House Democrats in 2013 and more in 2014. … He is giving equal support to the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm.
“Today he put his schedule where his heart is,” Israel said.
Yep, I’d say he certainly did put his schedule where his heart is, ’cause his heart is probably pretty set on on a successful and legacy-building second term, as Robert Shrum usefully illuminates over at the Daily Beast. He absolutely cannot afford to let the Democrats lose control of the Senate, and will want to pull out all of the stops to try and take back the House. An uber-liberal presidential agenda isn’t much good without a non-obstructionist, hostage-taking Congress to blithely pass it, you know.
President Obama may have to defy history—again. To pass much of his agenda for change, he not only will have to hold the Senate, but may have to gain the House in 2014, or come close, opening the way to what has eluded every two-term president in modern times—and at almost any time: a final two years of important, even historic, achievement in domestic affairs. …
But what can and should Barack Obama do to secure his landmark objectives and assure that his final two years aren’t a token presidency in the domestic arena? He will have to invoke the full persuasive power of the bully pulpit—and sustain the full firepower of his vaunted political organization in 2014. In effect, he will have to run all out for a third term in the midterms.
As Philip Klein points out, however, post-Civil War history is entirely against the president; he’d have to beat the traditional “six-year itch” that traditionally pits voters against the president’s party during his sixth year in office.
Liberal Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has argued that 2014 might break this trend. But I think it’s likely to hold, for several reasons. One, the redrawn Congressional maps are likely to protect Republicans at least until the second half of the decade. Two, the composition of the electorate in midterm elections is likely to be much more favorable to Republicans than the electorate Obama was able to galvanize during a presidential election year. Three, Obamacare’s major provisions will be implemented in 2014 and I’m betting against it going smoothly. This isn’t saying it can’t be done — seven such elections is a pretty small sample size and Republicans aren’t exactly popular right now. But it’s still unlikely.