President Obama was on the campus of the University of South California today, stumping in a deep-blue state for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who six years ago won with almost 60 percent of the vote. Now, however, she is locked in a dead heat with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Tonight in Nevada, he will try to raise money and excitement for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who may lose to Republican Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle.
But one thing the president seems to not be raising is expectations.
"Let me be clear. This is going to be a difficult election because we have been through an incredibly difficult time as a country," he told the crowd.
Being the incumbent party at a time of nearly 10 percent unemployment is, of course, perilous in itself, but even many Democratic officials are surprised at how difficult it has been for the president and Democratic lawmakers to reach voters,
Vice President Joe Biden, the most publicly optimistic prognosticator in the Obama administration, for the first time allowed for the possibility that Democrats would lose the House. He blamed outside spending by third-party groups.
"I've been out now on a lot of races," he told Bloomberg News. "I was amazed at the amount of money. I've never seen this before. So the only caveat I'd put in terms of the House is how much impact this $200 billion are going to mean."
Though that number is closer to $200 million, it appears that even before the election returns have come in, Democrats are eager to explain why things have gone so wrong for their party.
"We had to move so fast," Obama said Thursday in Seattle, explaining the many crises his administration faced. "We were in such emergency mode that it was very difficult for us to spend a lot of time doing victory laps and advertising exactly what we were doing, because we had to move on to the next thing."
Some Democrats told ABC News it wasn't that Democrats did not have the time to tout their accomplishments, but that they didn't have the guts.
"I think we have been too diffident and too scared about talking about health care," Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said. "We have been cowering behind the shower curtains hoping that somehow this would go away."
Rendell said Democrats "were outspun almost from the get-go on stimulus and on health care. We lost the communications battle early on."
The outgoing governor said Democrats "haven't been doing a good job" at giving voters "the facts."
Rendell believes that the Democratic momentum has improved and he holds out hope that Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., can beat former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in their highly contested election contest.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who is also retiring, said that Democratic politicians focused too much on the liberal base, pushing away independents who were more concerned about jobs and the deficit.
"Before we broke for the election," Bayh said, "the congressional Democrats' closing message was what to do about gays in the military, what to do about illegal immigration and what about the prospect for tax increases on more successful Americans."
Bayh said that during a time of real economic stress for Middle Americans, those issues just did not resonate for independents and moderates.