- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2014

Despite signs pointing to Republican gains in Tuesday’s midterm elections, White House aides said President Obama won’t change his leadership style because the contests in red states don’t represent a “true national election.”

With the GOP in striking distance of regaining control of the Senate, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that “the vast majority of [Senate races] are actually taking place in states that the president did not win in the last presidential election.” And he said the Republican-friendly nature of this year’s electoral map would be a reason for the White House to limit any lessons learned from the outcome.

“The electorate is different this time than it is in a traditional presidential election,” Mr. Earnest said. “That will be part of the calculation that’s made as we consider what sort of conclusion should be appropriately drawn from the election.”

He added, “Any analysis that you do is different than the analysis that you would do on a true national election.”

On Tuesday, all 435 House seats, 33 Senate seats and 38 governorships are up for grabs.

In the last midterm election, in 2010, a Republican wave bolstered by the tea party movement led to the GOP picking up 63 House seats and six Senate seats. Analysts described it as a national rebuke to Mr. Obama’s policies, especially Obamacare and the $821 billion economic stimulus program.

Many pollsters are forecasting a similarly significant defeat for the president’s party on Tuesday.

Senate elections are being held in states that Mr. Obama lost in 2012, such as Arkansas, Georgia, Alaska and Louisiana. But Senate contests are also being waged in states the president won four years ago: New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.

Asked if the election results from those states that supported the president will be less meaningful this year, Mr. Earnest replied, “The vast majority of people say that their vote is determined by something other than sending a message to the president of the United States, so I would take those voters at their word.”

Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Monday the White House is “ready to compromise” after the midterm elections, but that a Republican victory on Tuesday wouldn’t force the administration to undergo a wholesale overhaul in how it does business.

He appeared to indicate that the onus would be on Republicans regardless of the outcome of the elections on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it would change anything in terms of what we’re about,” he told CNN. “We know what we have to get done the last two years. Going into 2016, the Republicans have to make a decision whether they’re in control or not in control. Are they gonna begin to allow things to happen? Or are they gonna continue to be obstructionists? And I think they’re gonna choose to get things done.”

He also said he doesn’t see the White House drastically changing the way it does business after the midterms should Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

“I think we have to be more direct and clear about exactly what it is we’re looking to do, and look, we’re ready to compromise,” Mr. Biden said. “I think they’re gonna be inclined, because the message from the people — and I’m getting it all over the country — is they’re tired of Washington not being able to do anything.”

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll Monday found that 67 percent of the public wants to see Mr. Obama make substantial change in the direction of his leadership. Even 47 percent of Democrats in the survey said they want the president to significantly alter his leadership style.

Mr. Earnest said rather than the president changing his habits, the people who responded to the poll “should also examine the priorities that the president has been fighting for.”

He said the president’s advisers are not likely to take the poll results to heart, due mainly to what the White House views as Republicans’ intransigence.

“Those who have done the analytics here aren’t going to suggest that the way that the president can sort of change his leadership is by, you know, hiring and firing a couple of staff members at the White House,” he said. “What the people in that poll are saying is … they want to see more from Washington, D.C., in the way of policies that will benefit middle-class families. That’s something that the president has been fighting for for quite some time. We have not gotten much, if any, cooperation from Republicans in Congress on this.”

The president’s spokesman also refuted a reporter’s suggestion that the White House is “fracturing,” with reports of staff readying to depart and anonymous criticisms being leaked about administration officials.

“There’s a complete unity of opinion that the president’s view, and that the president’s commitment to both expanding economic opportunity for the middle class and doing everything we can to protect the American people around the globe, continues to be at the top of our agenda here,” Mr. Earnest said.

For the record, the president and Mr. Biden are predicting that Democrats will hold onto the Senate.

David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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