It's a don't-take-anything-for-granted message from President Barack Obama to his party: Even in the most reliably liberal states, no Democratic candidate is guaranteed victory in November.
That helps explain Obama's scheduled appearance Saturday afternoon at a Boston rally for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime friend and political ally. Republicans have tried to use Patrick's close relationship with the president as a campaign wedge against the incumbent seeking a second term.
With the Nov. 2 election quickly nearing, Obama is campaigning coast to coast, raising money for candidates and looking to energize Democratic voters whose enthusiasm has waned since the 2008 election. While the White House says it still believes Democrats will retain control of the House and Senate, a sputtering economy leaves the political climate perilous for the president's party.
During a stop Friday in Delaware, a left-leaning state where Democratic Senate candidate Chris Coons holds a solid lead over tea party-backed Republican Christine O'Donnell, Obama said no outcomes should be taken for granted.
"There is no doubt this is a difficult election," Obama said. "This is a tough political environment."
It's a lesson Obama learned firsthand in Massachusetts this year when he swept in to make a last-minute appeal for Martha Coakley, the Democrat seeking to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Despite Obama's backing, Coakley lost the special election to Republican Scott Brown.
Even though Massachusetts is among the nation's most liberal states, the last four governors before Patrick were Republicans. Massachusetts voters have opted for GOP governors as a hedge against perceived excesses by the Democratic-run state Legislature.
A poll from Suffolk University and WHDH-TV shows Patrick with a 7-point lead over Republican challenger Charles Baker. Patrick is also being challenged by independent Timothy Cahill, whose candidacy threatens to split the anti-Patrick vote.
Patrick shares Chicago roots, a Harvard pedigree and political consultants with Obama. They've been ardent political supporters of each other, with Obama campaigning for Patrick during his first gubernatorial campaign, and Patrick returning the favor by endorsing Obama in his presidential bid.
AP Political Writer Glen Johnson in Boston contributed to this report.