Many Democratic strategists are privately blaming Obama for their party’s difficulties in both districts and worry that if his numbers don’t improve he could hurt their chances at retaking the House in 2012.

“The whole national debate has moved away from what the Republicans have done with Medicare to the national dialogue that the president hasn’t been able to talk about the economy effectively and that hurts congressional Democrats,” said one top Democratic strategist who asked not to be named so he could speak candidly.

“It certainly hurts both of them and took Nevada out of contention.”

The Democratic candidates in both special elections have tried to distance themselves from Obama.