Warning: out of control summer for Obama and Hill Democrats

The 2010 Congressional elections are more than a year away, and much can change between now and then.

But here is a troubling straw in the wind for President Obama and his supporters on Capitol Hill.

Charlie Cook, one of the most respected political analysts in town (and no relation), has just fired off a memo to readers of The Cook Political Report, commenting that, “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.”

Cook said that his Congressional election model, analyzing individual races, “is pointing toward a net Democratic loss of between six and 12 seats.” But, he contends, “our sense, factoring in macropolitical dynamics is that this is far too low.”

Odds for Democratic seat losses

Among many veteran congressional election watchers, Cook says, there is “a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats.”

Such losses, if they were to occur, would make it even more difficult for the Obama administration to accomplish its legislative goals in the second half of the President’s term. Democrats currently hold a 78 seat margin over Republicans in the House.

No help from Wall Street gains

“That all of this is happening against the backdrop of an economy that appears to be rebounding and a resurgent stock market underscores how much the President’s and his party’s legislative agenda have contributed to these poor poll numbers,” Cook said.

As Cook points out, “it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact that this mood will have” on members of Congress when they return from their summer recess.

Turning around this perception of a loss of message control is one reason why President Obama spent much of Thursday pitching his health care program. He started by making a live appearance on conservative radio host Michael Smerconish’s broadcast. Later in the afternoon Obama delivered a pep talk to supporters at the Organizing for American National Health Care Forum at Democratic National Committee headquarters.

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