Seeking to boost the numbers, Mr. Obama is traveling across the country to trumpet the short-term benefits of the new health care law.
On Thursday, he was in Portland, Maine, where he predicted voters will start to support health care reform, and ridiculed early polls suggesting that voters continue to be unimpressed with the changes.
“It’s been a week, folks,” Mr. Obama said. “Before we find out if people like health care reform, we should wait to see what happens when we actually put it into place. Just a thought.”
For now, the health care debate’s political effect on Republicans and Democrats is easy to spot: Both sides are more energized.
A CNN poll released Tuesday found that 56 percent of Republicans said they’re extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in November, a six-point jump since January, while 36 percent of Democrats said they’re similarly enthused, which marks a five-point increase.
That enthusiasm gap bodes well for Republicans heading into the elections, but Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Carville said the GOP’s brand image is likely too tarnished for them to retake the House and Senate.
They said in 1994, Republicans emerged from every policy fight with a strengthened image, but this year the GOP is suffering from each policy fight.
Mr. Carville predicted that Republicans will net about 25 House seats and six or seven Senate seats - not enough to give them control of either chamber, but enough to drop Democrats’ margins dramatically.
He said, though, that this will be the third election in a row in which a party has scored those big congressional wins, after Democrats’ double-dip successes of 2006 and 2008, and said voters are profoundly unhappy.
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.