The State of Barack Obama Is Bold

The president is letting the GOP march to its own oblivion.

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That's actually a deeply odd rhetorical formulation. As a general matter in American politics, voters don't get wound up over process issues—which raises a pair of interconnected questions. The first is whether this election cycle will be different, whether Obama and his party can, to practical effect, tar congressional GOP-ers as gridlock-loving obstructionists. Unwillingness to act "sets up the Republicans for being the cause of the failure," Bill Burton, a former Obama aide who ran the super PAC allied with the president during 2012, argued Wednesday. "It's such a clear contrast between where Democrats and Republicans are," he added. "Sometimes you just have to get caught trying." That's especially true with Obama's issues. "Minimum wage is very motivating for people of color, very motivating for women," observes pollster Lake who says that the issue set broadly could be critical to spur low-intensity Obama voters to the polls in the 2014 midterm elections.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does Barack Obama Have a Mandate?]

The second, related, question is what will the electorate look like then? Voters in off-year cycles tend to be older and whiter than in presidential years. But Democrats hope that they can apply the sophisticated targeting and mobilizing techniques the Obama re-election campaign honed. "Our politics is changing because it's actually possible now to change the composition of the electorate," Democratic strategist Devine says. Once these modern targeting techniques "sweep into House politics … Republicans are in real trouble," he says.

He adds: "The stuff I'm talking about isn't there yet, but boy it's right at the door."

Knock knock.

  • Read the U.S. News Debate: Did Obama's State of the Union Gun Rhetoric Effectively Sell Gun Control to Congress?
  • Read Ron Bonjean: Obama Declares War on the GOP in the State of the Union Speech
  • Read Mort Zuckerman: How We Can End Our Modern-Day Depression