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How President Obama can win over Congress (+ video)

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This outcome may embolden Republicans to keep pressing for change in Medicare and other social welfare programs. As Winston Churchill wrote, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” 

House Democrats may be glad that Mr. Obama won, but they owe him very little. The president’s unpopularity in Republican-leaning states hurt Democratic congressional candidates, especially in the South. The president also failed to give House Democrats as much attention and campaign help as they wanted.

When a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Obama campaign manager Jim Messina why the president wasn’t doing more for congressional candidates, he said: "We really do believe a high tide raises all boats. If we win, history teaches us Democrats will win, as well." But while the president floated, the House Democrats’ boat remained stuck on bottom.

Senate Democrats fared better than their House counterparts, not only holding their majority but scoring a net gain of two seats. Yet the president cannot take much credit for this showing. Their biggest upset triumphs occurred in Montana and North Dakota, which went for Mitt Romney in the presidential race. They also won high-profile races in the Romney states of Missouri and Indiana. These victories were less surprising because the Republican candidates had made spectacular blunders while talking about rape and abortion. The president may have had coattails in a couple of other races, but Democrats would have held their majority without them.

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