President Obama believes that Democrats will hold the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections, expecting a strong ground game to help vulnerable members of his party locked in tough reelection battles.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked Monday if Obama agreed with Vice President Biden, who told CNN earlier in the day that he did not "agree with the odds-makers" and thought Democrats would "keep the Senate."
"So that is a very strong argument for Democrats to effectively make in the context of this campaign," Earnest said. "They’re are also backed by a tried-and-true ground campaign strategy that, in the context of a very close race, can provide a 2-3-point margin that could eventually make up the difference."
But despite that optimism, the White House on Monday was looking to pre-emptively downplay the results of the election. Noting that the "vast majority" of close Senate races were taking place in states President Obama did not win in 2012, Earnest argued "the electorate is different this time than it is in a traditional presidential election.”
“It would not be wise to draw as broad a conclusion about the outcome of this election as you would from a national presidential election, simply by virtue of the map and the states where this contest is taking place,” Earnest said.
The White House spokesman said that fact would be taken into consideration when the White House was evaluating what message the voters were sending on Tuesday.
Still, Earnest emphasized that the consequences of Monday's election would be "significant," and the White House would be open to changing its "tactics" in the coming years — without conceding that as a nod to souring opinion of the president.
"Signaling an openness to working with anybody, either a Democrat or a Republican, to advance your agenda means an openness to changing your tactics, right?" Earnest said. "If we can succeed in moving a piece of legislation that ultimately benefits middle-class families without compromising a principle but that may envision a change in some kind of tactic, of course, the president’s going to be open to doing exactly that."