2. David Axelrod. Senior adviser David Axelrod has publicly expressed his desire to return to Chicago to be closer to his family. However, The New York Times recently reported that Axelrod has extended the lease on his Washington apartment. And Axe is certainly showing no public signs of quitting the national fight before the midterms, blasting the president’s GOP critics for obstructionism (“their strategy is to lock everything down and not let anything happen,” he told the Huffington Post. It’s entirely possible that he can have his cake and eat it too—hanging on in DC through the 2010 vote, returning to Chicago to help launch Obama’s 2012 re-election (which will be headquartered in the Windy City), and holding onto his DC flat to keep his hand in Washington as needed. However it plays out, Axelrod is unlikely to untether himself from Obama anytime soon.

If he were to head for the exits, he’d leave a big hole in the lineup. He runs two key operations in Obama’s orbit. He effectively edits the speechwriters, channeling the president’s voice. And he runs the White House network of polling and focus group consultants, drawing on extensive analysis of policy, language and political strategy. Axelrod is one of the most important players in shaping Obama’s public reaction to the news cycle.