Some high-level Democrats are calling for President Barack Obama to remake his inner circle or even fire top advisers in response to what many party strategists expect to be a decisive defeat on Tuesday.
Tensions have come to the surface after meetings over the past few weeks in which Obama senior adviser David Axelrod discussed communications strategy with senior Democratic strategists and party officials. Some Democrats were so unhappy with the White House meetings, they started their own.
The strategy sessions aired a range of disagreements over how to help Democrats forestall an electoral drubbing at the polls—a defeat party strategists believe could have been minimized with a different White House playbook.
Among the complaints: Obama conveyed an incoherent message that didn't express what Democrats would do over the next two years if they retain power; he focused more on his own image than helping Democratic candidates; and the White House picked the wrong battle when it attacked Republicans for using "outside" money to pay for campaigns, an issue disconnected from voters' real-world anxieties.
The latest strategy session took place Monday afternoon.
"The money thing could work, but there's never been a larger frame around it to connect it to people's lives," said Dee Dee Myers, a consultant who worked for the Clinton White House when Republicans swept the 1994 elections. She said she participated in an Oct. 8 meeting with Mr. Axelrod and about 15 Democratic strategists at the White House.
A White House official defended the Obama Team's strategy. The pushback against the flood of advertising from outside conservative groups was vital, he said. "Candidates were being pummeled by those ads. Unless we raised the issue of who was paying for it all, they were going to get swallowed alive."
He added that the White House emphasized its attacks on Republicans as a coordinated attempt with congressional Democrats to shift the race from a referendum on the economy and Democratic rule to a choice between Democrats and Republicans.