Polling shows strong support for Obama's position. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC survey released late Wednesday, three-quarters of Americans say they would accept raising taxes on the wealthy to avoid the cliff.
Among Republicans, some 61 percent say they would accept tax increases on high earners.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll released Tuesday indicted that nearly half of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the negotiations versus the quarter of respondents who approved of Boehner's.
At the same time, Obama's public opinion rating has reached about 54 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average, above the level where it peaked in May 2011, when bin Laden was killed.
Republicans are in a bad negotiating position, Conrad said, noting that the Democratic-controlled Senate has already passed a bill preserving tax cuts for the middle-class, leaving the Republican-controlled House standing in the way.
"And so Republicans are really in an awkward position," he said.