Now that the health-care reform logjam has broken, President Obama and his Democratic congressional majority are fixing their sights on the mid-term elections, as these developments clearly show:
* Provisions of the reform bill that are especially appealing to middle class voters take effect on September 1 by design. This is about nine weeks before the November 2 election in which 36 Senate and all House seats will be in play.
These provisions include one that allows parents to keep their children on their family insurance plans until age 26, which is especially pertinent -- and appealing to those all-important Independent voters -- because young adults have not been faring well during the Bush Recession and nearly 14 million of them lack insurance.
* Long-standing opposition to expanding offshore drilling along the Atlantic Coast was eased and Obama announced that his administration also will consider potential new areas for development in the Gulf of Mexico and continued development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska.
This could boost the candidacies of the Democratic challenger to popular Delaware Republican Congressman Mike Castle, who is running for the Senate, and the Democrat who will face Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio for a Florida Senate seat.
* The Department of Education awarded the first two Race to the Top competition grants to Tennessee ($500 million) and Delaware ($100 million) with another $3.7 billion in play.
While the money is a boon to the aforementioned Castle, it is probable that tiny Delaware got the money because it is Vice President Biden's home state and Castle is considered a leading moderate voice in public education who is far more in tune with the administration than many of his Republican peers. Ditto for Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. There is another reason as well: Castle and Alexander may be precious future swing votes.
Meanwhile, many Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas are realizing that the GOP could be its own worst enemy come fall and are now running away from advocating the repeal of health-care reform. Nor are they likely to push back against offshore drilling or the Race to the Top billions that will be popular in their districts.
The GOP thought it was playing smart politics in just saying no to anything and everything, but Obama may well be on his way to trumping them as they continue to play into his hands.