"Permanent Democratic majority" looking not so permanent

Obama broke the decisive role Ohio and Florida seemed to play in presidential elections, by moving from trench warfare engagement in the two states to a broader battlefield on which Republicans were placed on the defensive in states they’d once taken for granted. And his victories in places where Democrats had fared poorly in recent elections — Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, the interior West —seemed to validate his strategists’ claims that he had consigned the red state-blue state presidential dichotomy to the bookstore remainders bin.

But now some of the same unlikely states that Obama put in his party’s column 15 months ago feature Senate, House and governor’s races with Democratic candidates in grave danger of losing in what is quickly shaping up to be a toxic election cycle.

While off-year and down-ballot elections are inherently different than presidential contests, the rapid reversal in Democratic fortunes in the very places where Obama’s success brought so much attention suggests that predictions of a lasting realignment were premature…

“There aren’t many Obamas,” said Gary Pearce, a longtime Tar Heel State Democratic consultant. “He’s not on the ballot and I don’t know that [his appeal] transmits. He created an energy and enthusiasm that’s really rare in politics.”