White House press secretary Josh Earnest is already seeking to walk back expected Democratic losses in the midterms, saying Monday it “would not be wise” to use the results to draw a broad conclusion about the mood of the country.
Republicans are expected to win control of the Senate Tuesday, meaning that President Barack Obama will have to contend with a full Republican Congress in the final two years of his presidency.
“A midterm election is different than a presidential election, particularly this year,” Earnest said.
“The Senate contests that are understandably so closely followed, the vast majority of them are actually taking place in states the president did not win the last presidential election,” Earnest added. “So the electorate is different this time than it is in a traditional presidential election. That will be part of the calculation that is made as we consider what sort of conclusion should be appropriately drawn from the election.”
Democrats face a big risk of losing Senate seats in red states such as Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina, all states won by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. However, Senate races in New Hampshire and Iowa — states Obama won in 2012 — are also tight.
“In other words, it would not be wise to draw as broad a conclusion about the outcome of this election as you would form a national presidential election, simply by virtue of the map and the facts of where the contests are taking place,” Earnest said. “That is, this election is extraordinarily important, that’s why you’ve seen a concerted effort by the president to benefit Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Earnest also said he doesn’t “anticipate” any major White House staff shake-ups “this week” after the midterms, amid speculation that Obama could be looking to clean house.
“There have been some presidents who have felt compelled in the aftermath of midterm elections to publicly fire high-profile members of the administration,” Earnest said. “At this point, I don’t anticipate that will happen later this week.”
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