WASHINGTON - On Nov. 4, Americans will vote in the midterm elections that for all intents and purposes will be a referendum on Barack Obama's unpopular presidency.
Obama's name won't be on the ballot, but he will be on the minds of many if not most voters when they go into the voting booths to decide who'll be in charge of Congress for the next two years.
A lot can happen between now and then, but a growing number of top political analysts who've studied the polls in key Senate races think Obama's deepening unpopularity may end the Democrats' control of the Senate.
"If the 2014 election is a referendum on President Obama, Democrats are in deep trouble," warns election handicapper Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post.
The Republicans need just six seats to take over the Senate, and surveys by the Gallup Poll last year showed that Obama's disapproval numbers were over 50 percent in 10 of the 21 seats held by Democrats that are now up for grabs in November.
Obama is most unpopular in five battleground states that could move the GOP to within one seat of a Senate majority.
They are West Virginia, with 67.3 percent disapproval; Arkansas,
57 percent; South Dakota, 59.3 percent; Alaska, 55.4 percent; and Montana, 60.9 percent.
Democrats in three of these states -- South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana -- have chosen not to seek re-election, giving Republicans a strong chance of capturing these open seats.
In two of them, Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from Obama by criticizing his timid, small bore agenda on the nation's most critical economic troubles.
"Overall, I'm disappointed with the president's State of the Union address because he was heavy on rhetoric but light on specifics about how we can move our country forward," said Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich expressed misgivings about Obama's go-it- alone plan to implement his agenda through unilateral executive orders. As for any political help from the president in the fall, Begich flatly said, "I'm not really interested in campaigning" with him.
Obama's disapproval scores were running between 50 percent and
55 percent in five other states that the GOP is also targeting:
Louisiana, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. So the Republicans have a large number of chances to reach their takeover threshold.
While it is a long stretch between now and Election Day when the political and economic climate could change, the early signs suggest that this will continue to be a year of volatility and turbulence in our economy.