“I think it really is a problem. I’m taken aback by it all,” said Democratic House candidate Jim Graves of Minnesota, adding that he intends to air his grievances with the White House during his campaign against GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.

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A senior Democratic strategist told POLITICO that the potential drag on Democrats running in the midterm should not be underestimated.

“The entire party is interested that the White House gets this dealt with,” a senior party strategist told POLITICO. “It makes it very, very tough.”

To have a prayer of flipping the House, Democrats need to turn an electoral triple play: motivate young and minority voters who are less likely to vote without Obama atop the ticket, lock up independents and give a slice of Republicans reason to pull the Democratic lever in dozens of districts that tilt red.

The events of the past week hurt on all those fronts. If anything, Democratic operatives privately conceded, the IRS scandal will fire up the GOP base and bolster the conservative case against Democrats as the party of invasive government.