Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia governors' races last week—despite eight campaign appearances in the two states by President Barack Obama—have unnerved Democrats.
Over the weekend, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod tried to calm jittery Democrats who might go wobbly on the president's ambitious agenda by telling NBC's Chuck Todd that next year's congressional elections will be "nationalized." Because they "will be a referendum on this White House," he said, voters will turn out for Mr. Obama. Mr. Todd summed up Mr. Axelrod's plans by saying, "It's almost like a page from the Bush playbook of 2002."
I appreciate the reference. Only two presidents have picked up seats in both houses of Congress for their party in their first midterm elections. One was FDR in 1934. The other was George W. Bush in 2002, whose party gained House seats and won back control of the Senate.
But those midterm elections might not be a favorable comparison for this White House. The congressional elections were nationalized seven years ago largely because national security was an overriding issue and Democrats put themselves on the wrong side of it by, among other things, catering to Big Labor.
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