On Capitol Hill, Republicans who took a lot of flak for McConnell’s remarks were shocked — shocked — that the president would do the same thing he accused McConnell of doing. “With millions of Americans still looking for work and incomes in a free fall, it’s astonishing that the first thing Obama thought of after declaring victory on election night was how to take out John Boehner two years from now,” says one Senate GOP aide. “The American people voted for divided government in November. They expect the president to stop campaigning for once and deal with it.”
Republicans are also quick to point out a number of factors that make Obama’s 2014 goal very difficult. For one, second-term presidents almost never make gains in Congress in their second midterm elections. Bill Clinton in 1998 was the only president to do it in the last 80 years, and the circumstances of Clinton’s win — it was in the middle of the Lewinsky scandal with impeachment on the way — were so weird that they aren’t likely to be replicated.
Also, by November 2014, Barack Obama will be a lame duck. The Democratic and Republican races to replace him in 2016 will be well under way by then, and the political world’s attention will be on a new field of candidates. Obama will, of course, still have the constitutional powers of the presidency, but his political powers will be sharply diminished.
And one more thing. The 2014 elections will occur after Americans have experienced a year of Obamacare.