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In his first term, Mr. Obama relied on his own personal power rather than on Capitol Hill coalition-building — with limited success. His current fiscal cliff negotiation stance indicates this tendency will likely continue.

Factoring in the 2014 midterm’s likely losses and his own subsequent lame-duck status, Mr. Obama can really only expect success with his governing style during 2013. Beyond that, his reliance on personal power will reach its limits. It is unclear whether the dividends he can count on accruing in 2013 will outweigh the debits likely to come due in 2014 and beyond.

J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget and as a congressional staff member.