In the 2008 campaign, Democrats running for the Senate did anything - and everything - to associate themselves with then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
With about two months remaining in the 2010 campaign season, however, Obama's political fortunes have dipped in a handful of states holding competitive Senate races - complicating the winning math for Democratic candidates already struggling with a pessimistic electorate that remains deeply concerned about the country's direction.
"In midterm elections, the presidential numbers serve like a weight on scale," said one senior Democratic consultant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about the playing field. "The heavier [or worse] the numbers, the harder it is for any person in the party to get back to even keel."
Recent polls on Obama conducted for many of the nation's top Senate races show that those who disapprove of the job the president is doing outweigh those who approve.
Take Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio and Indiana - four states that Obama won by 10, nine, five and one percentage points, respectively, in 2008.
In each of those states, his job-approval numbers have taken a hit. A Franklin & Marshall poll released in Pennsylvania last week showed that just more than one in three (37 percent) rate the job the president has done as "excellent" or "good." Internal Democratic polls released over the past week put Obama's job-approval score at 42 percent (in Colorado) and 38 percent (in Indiana). In Ohio, a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that 45 percent approved of the job he was doing, while 49 percent disapproved.
Or take a trio of potential Democratic Senate pickup chances, in Kentucky, Missouri and Florida. (Obama lost Kentucky by 16 percentage points and Missouri by less than one, but he won Florida by three.) CONTINUES HERE