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Boehner's Reelection Could Signal Grim 2014 for GOP

McSweeney said he and other conservatives were worried about the GOP becoming a "watered down progressive party."

The president and other Democrats saw the 2012 election -- in which Obama claimed a sizable electoral victory and his party gained in the House and Senate -- as a referendum that Americans preferred their route and not Republicans. As part of that referendum, the president's side viewed it had the upper hand and could accuse failure to avert the fiscal cliff on an uncooperative GOP.

With conservatives likely having relinquished to more of the Democrats' demands than vice versa, it appears Obama's calculus was accurate.

Boehner's bipartisan stance may look good to a large swath of the country, but to Republicans in very conservative districts or with fiscal-hawk constituents, it's a difficult position to maneuver.

"He's a country-club Republican ... he's not the base," said the operative. "It's grim."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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