''The question still is whether we can govern in the next two years,'' an administration official says.
As the fall campaign nears its end, President Reagan's objective remains what it was at the beginning: to ward off a recession-related defeat that could result, this same official concedes, ''in a stalemate government until the end of the President's first term.''
The immediate question is whether Mr. Reagan's ''stay the course'' theme is working - whether the voters who elected him will stick with him and give him enough Republicans in Congress to continue his program of cutting government's size.
The President's people say they are well aware of polls showing that voters appear ready to increase the Democrats' margin in the House by a sizable amount. But they point out that these same polls called the Reagan-Carter election extremely close, right up to the time of the 1980 election; their findings never reflected the Reagan landslide that was in the making.
Indeed, there are signs along the campaign trail that the President, through several concessions to farmers that include increasing grain sales to the Soviet Union, is taking some of the steam out of the incipient farm revolt.
Several thousand farmers waited for hours, braving a rather nasty day, to hear the President at Chapin, Ill. They weren't there to air their grievances. If there was any anger, it was muffled. It was a happy throng, eager to see the President.
New reports from the farm belt indicate that farmers are supporting Reagan. Most of them have been voting Republican - they and their fathers and ancestors - going back to Lincoln. They seldom vote Democratic. When dissatisfied, they are more likely not to vote at all, thus helping the Democrats win.
But now, with the growing feeling that the President is doing something to ease their lot, Republican farmers seem bent on supporting their party and their President.
Actually, new Reagan polling indicates a resurgence of support for the President among Republicans everywhere. In percentage it has dipped a bit in recent weeks but is now up again in the mid-to-high 70s.