You’ve read plenty of election coverage, but I haven’t seen much mention of the effect Obama had on his party’s nominees.
He went into Virginia about 2 weeks out, and Deeds dropped in the polls. Corzine was up by about 2 points when Obama started with the appearances and robo-calls. Corzine ended up losing steam about 4 days out.
Elections are dynamic things, and all kinds of socio-psychological factors come into play, so one can’t simply say Obama hurt his party. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Obama provides one factor that is electoral death for his party’s candidates going into 2010.
He fires up the opposition like no one has ever seen. In this, he is just like Bush; a polarizing figure. The key difference is that this is center-right nation. When Bush polarizes he wins (if narrowly), and when Obama polarizes, (as he will now that all that ‘bipartisan/post-partisan’ talk is seen for the blather that it is) he loses.