Politico

By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE | 10/27/14 5:02 AM EDT

Nervous that Democrats could lose control of the Senate, the White House is already discussing how to cut deals with a Republican majority.

As bad as the electoral map for Democrats is this year, the map for Republicans in 2016 is even worse. GOP incumbents are up in seven states Obama won twice and two he won once, including Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Rob Portman in Ohio, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Mark Kirk in Illinois and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.

Those senators, goes one thought circulating the West Wing, would be under pressure to move towards the middle and be the bridge to larger deals with a caucus eager to show it can get things done.

Aides are discussing potential areas for agreement: tax reform, infrastructure, sentencing reform, renewing unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage and expanding early childhood education.

Anything that breaks the partisan gridlock would likely be welcome news to a president who sees a lot of unfinished business as he stares down the last two years of his administration and not much to show for his “pen and phone” strategy to govern via executive action.

Others in the White House dismiss all this as, at best, an absurdly best-case scenario. If Republicans are in the majority, nothing will come to the floor without the approval of Sen. Mitch McConnell, and anything would need 60 votes — not to mention the green light from what’s likely to be a larger GOP majority in the House.

It’s enough of a stretch to imagine McConnell signing off on handing Obama a victory, they say, but Republicans would also need to be worried about setting off primaries from the right for themselves. Rubio, for instance, worked with Democrats to pass an immigration bill out of the Senate last year and was eviscerated by conservatives, without even a final law to show for it. And former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) surprise primary loss was blamed on talk he would deal with the White House on immigration. But expect Obama to talk about immigration no matter what, even if there isn’t a deal to be reached.

So far, there hasn’t been much in the way of big White House strategy sessions about what to do in a Republican Senate. But the conversations have begun, though Obama staffers — superstitious as always, and with enough in poll numbers they see to keep them from giving up hope — would not openly delve into what’s being discussed.

Many Hill insiders laugh at all of this.

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