Ask them about it, and many Democrats will point to the continued personal popularity of Barack Obama. But that’s not the story. “I think what’s going to happen is Obama’s going to be fine, and the Democrats in Congress are going to get their asses kicked in 2010,” says one Democratic strategist who prefers not to be named. “This is following a curve like the Clinton years: take on really controversial things early, fail, or succeed partially, ask Democrats to take really tough votes, and then lose. A lot of guys are going to get beat, but the president has time to recover.”…

And what if the Republicans stage a comeback? Some Obama supporters think it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. “The truth is, Democratic presidents do better when there’s a Republican Congress,” says the Democratic strategist. “If there were a Republican Congress, there would be things that are non-starters.”

Things like a public option in health care reform, a massive cap-and-trade energy scheme, and all sorts of tax increases. In other words, proposals that are popular with the Democratic base but unpopular with the independent voters who hold the president’s fate in their hands.