Salena Zito

“Success in these three states is vital to a second term,” he said. “However, each showed noteworthy drops in Democratic identification from 2008 to 2010” – in Ohio by 7.8 percent, Indiana by 6.9, Pennsylvania by 6.5.

And each showed a dive in Obama’s job-approval rating from 2009 to 2010 – in Ohio by 7.9 percent, Indiana by 11.4, Pennsylvania by 11.1. All three give Obama an approval rating below 48 percent and a disapproval rating above 45 percent.

“If these numbers do not change, they could create a drag on the incumbents who are allies to the president,” said Brauer.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who has been left of the president, most likely will face serious re-election trouble. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., who has been supportive of many administration policies, most likely will face a tough primary challenge from the right.

It could translate into a tougher-than-expected re-election bid for Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat with a close friendship to and strong legislative support of Obama.

“There have been some major electoral swings when voters became angry or fearful over the direction the nation was going,” said Ritchie. “In 1918, during World War I, Democrats lost the majority in both the House and Senate, and voters swung over to the Republicans in a big way during the ’Twenties.”

Then the Depression hit, and Republicans lost almost a hundred House seats in 1932.

By 1936, Democrats had more than two-thirds of the Senate and the House.

When World War II ended, Republicans swung back into the majority by campaigning on the slogan “Had Enough?” That majority lasted only two years.

Philips, by the way, was fatally shot outside New York's Princeton Club two years before the 17th Amendment passed, by a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra violinist unhappy with a number of his other writings.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.