(POLITICO) — As the slugfest between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney gets nastier, Republicans in Congress find themselves at a significant disadvantage as they watch most Democrats fall in lockstep behind President Barack Obama’s election-year agenda.

GOP lawmakers can’t wait for the bitter presidential primary to end, fearing the prolonged affair will not only doom their party’s chances in 2012 but also imperil their election-year message and agenda on Capitol Hill.

Their problems span the gauntlet.

They lack the bully pulpit Obama used last week in his State of the Union address.

The GOP House majority is no longer hogging the media attention as it did last year.

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