President Obama warned Democratic donors that party voters tend to get "sleepy" during midterm elections.
"We’re good at Senate and House elections during presidential years — it’s something about midterms," Obama said at a fundraising stop in Virginia. "I don’t know what it is about us. We get a little sleepy, we get a little distracted. We don’t turn out to vote. We don’t fund campaigns as passionately. That has to change and has got to change right here, because too much is at stake for us to let this opportunity slip by."
"We know how to win national elections, but all too often, it's during these midterms where we end up getting ourselves into trouble, because I guess we don't think it's sexy enough," Obama said. "If there's one message that I want to deliver today to every Democrat and every person who's interested in supporting Democratic policies, is that you've got to pay attention to the states."
The president is looking to build Democrats' coffers and momentum ahead of what is shaping up to be a bruising 2014 campaign.
In the Senate, Democrats are defending 21 of the 36 seats up this fall, and election watchers widely expect the party to lose seats as they protect a fragile six-seat majority. Democrats in red states like South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana have retired, and Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) are facing tough races.
In the House, Democrats are unlikely to pick up the 17 seats they need to win back control of the Republican-controlled chamber.
But the White House is looking to do whatever it can, committing President Obama to attend 18 events for the Democratic National Committee through June and an additional dozen events for the Democratic Senate, House, and governor campaign committees.
The White House is also coordinating with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to shape a legislative agenda for the coming months that could benefit the party ahead of the fall.
"While each candidate will tailor their message and issues to their states and districts, a unified message for Democrats is particularly important because of the fundamental divisions within the Republican Party," one White House official said. "White House aides have been working with the Senate and House on votes that will underscore the opportunity agenda that Democrats are championing."
The president’s remarks Tuesday night came at a fundraiser at the home of former Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and Lynda Robb in McLean, Va. Tickets for the fundraiser ranged from $10,000 to $32,400, according to a DSCC official, and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) were in attendance.
On Wednesday, the president will travel to Boston for a pair of events benefiting the Democratic National Committee. That will include an event at the Charles Hotel, near the campus of Harvard University, and a question-and-answer session with donors at a nonprofit youth and arts center in South Boston.