WASHINGTON - Six months before the midterm elections, President Obama is facing severe Democratic losses that threaten to imperil the next two years of his term and his chances of re-election.
The list of vulnerable Democratic House and Senate seats lengthens almost weekly as the country grows increasingly angry, and political polls show Republican challengers widening their leads in key races.
The most stunning examples of the Democratic Party's unraveling can be found in the contests for President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden's former Senate seats in Illinois and Delaware -- two of the bluest states in the country.
Biden's seat is going to be filled by Republican Rep. Mike Castle, and Obama's seat, considered a toss-up at best, was moved into the "leaning Republican" column this week by the Cook Political Report, which closely tracks congressional elections.
The Senate race in Obama's home state has turned into a particularly embarrassing situation for the president. The Democratic nominee is State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, whose family-owned bank has been brought down by financial scandal (including loans to mob figures), and last week was seized and sold by the FDIC.
Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, a centrist with strong crossover appeal, is considered a virtual shoo-in by many observers.
Right now, Republicans are looking at a potential gain of seven seats in the Senate, including Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas and North Dakota.
And some veteran handicappers do not dismiss the possibility the GOP could win control of the Senate with a party switch.
"As the midterms approach and substantial GOP Senate gains seem inevitable, more attention will fall on Connecticut's soon-to-be senior senator, Joe Lieberman," writes election tracker Stuart Rothenberg in his Rothenberg Political Report. Lieberman could be the key GOP target to change parties.
And if the GOP were to net nine seats, "and it's still a long shot -- Lieberman would become either the Democrats' 50th vote or the Republicans' 51st for organizing the Senate," Rothenberg says.
In the House, Republicans could pick up 25 to 30 seats -- and GOP strategists do not rule out the possibility of a net gain of 40 and control of the chamber.
Charlie Cook is telling reporters that the Democrats are about to be swamped by a "classic wave election" that shows no sign of weakening.