That gridlock could inflict significant damage to the Republican Party. But Obama’s ability to manage an ambitious agenda in his new term also hangs in the balance.

Stalemates in Congress “may not affect his popularity all that much, but it will affect his ability to govern, if you define ability to govern as your ability to move your policy agenda forward,” said Bill Galston, a former domestic policy advisor to President Clinton.

For Republicans, the events of the last several days signal how the orthodoxy of the tea party and other conservatives dominates the party, much to the frustration of the few remaining moderates, who want to broaden the GOP’s appeal.

“We’re on the wrong side of fixing the economy and on the wrong side of where the country is going in dealing with gun violence and on comprehensive immigration reform,” said John Weaver, who advised Jon Huntsman Jr.’s campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and helped oversee 2008 GOP nominee John McCain’s presidential run.