I see too much of two things in the commentary world right now: folks on the left saying that because Barack Obama's still got the same level of support he did on election day that the 2010 election cycle isn't going to be a big problem for Democrats and folks on the right saying that because so many Democrats up for reelection next year are in such big trouble that Obama's goose is cooked in 2012.
Neither of those things are correct: as of today Democrats are in big trouble for 2010 but Barack Obama is just fine for 2012.
The Virginia Governor's race is the best exemplification of this.
Almost no voters are shifting their loyalties. Bob McDonnell is winning 8% of Obama voters and Creigh Deeds is winning 7% of McCain voters. But proportionally more McCain voters are coming out this year than did last year, and there's also some indication that disaffected conservatives who didn't even vote for President in 2008 are turning back out to support McDonnell. That all adds up to the Republican being the clear favorite in the race at this point, even though most who voted for Obama are also supporting Creigh Deeds.
The simple truth is that a lot of people who voted for Barack Obama just aren't that enthusiastic about Creigh Deeds- and they're probably not going to be that enthusiastic about Michael Bennet, Blanche Lincoln, or Arlen Specter either. That doesn't mean they're going to vote for Jane Norton, Gilbert Baker, or Pat Toomey. They're just not going to vote at all this year or next year. But they still like Obama and they will more than likely be back to vote for him in 2012.
I think there is a limit to how transferable Obama's appeal is, and that means the 2010 electorate and the 2008/2012 electorate are going to look very different.
I really think, based on the political conditions today, that the the next two election cycles will play out very similarly to the next two election cycles after the last time a Democrat was elected President. 2010 probably won't be quite as bad for Democrats as 1994, but they will lose a fair amount. But I also think Obama will end up coasting for reelection against a week Republican opponent in 2012.
And of course that again is based on the conditions right now- who knows what the next year could bring that would change the course of the 2010 election cycle or what the next three years could bring that would shake up things for 2012.