CQ Study Shows Obama’s Legislative Strategy is Working

Congressional Quarterly concludes that whether or not Obama’s relatively low-key approach is antagonizing his core supporters, it seems to be working:

In his first year in office, President Obama did better even than legendary arm-twister Lyndon Johnson in winning congressional votes on issues where he took a position, a Congressional Quarterly study finds.

The new CQ study gives Obama a higher mark than any other president since it began scoring presidential success rates in Congress more than five decades ago. And that was in a year where Obama tackled how to deal with Afghanistan, Iraq, an expanding terrorist threat, the economic crisis and battles over health care.

On roll-call votes where the president had a clear position, the percent that Congress supported him 1

In part we’re seeing that an administration staffed, from the White House on down, with veterans of the Hill has a very good sense of what can pass congress and what you need to do to get congress to pass it.

That said, I continue to think that this approach may prove counterproductive in the midterms. The kind of activists who you need to give money, volunteer, and urge their friends to vote like to see the President they worked to elect out there fighting against the bad guys. Watching him sound out where the pivotal member stands, and then leaning on everyone to his left to get in line is demoralizing. As I’ve been saying, I think taking on the banks is a good opportunity to break this dynamic and draw a few lines in the sand. That means an enhanced risk of losing congressional votes, but it would help people stay engaged with the fact that there are real stakes in the coming elections.