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David Plouffe advising White House on 2010 midterm elections

Of course, with Democrats in charge of every lever of power in official Washington, the burden of proof falls far more heavily on Obama and his party than on the GOP. And, with most Americans yet to feel a significant uptick in the economy, the attempt to reform health care bogged down and national security rising as an issue, even the rosiest-eyed Democrats acknowledge that the November elections are likely to be tough for their party.

Plouffe, aware of the challenges for Democrats, said that if people know both the "positive" Democratic story and the "comparative" message against Republicans, the predictions of political Armageddon will be far short of the reality this fall.

"The wisest thing to do is prepare for a very tough election," Plouffe advised members of his party. "But in this kind of turbulent electoral environment, I don't think any of us should presume an electoral outcome."

Bayh weak?

Some troubling news for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)? Maybe. A poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee shows that the two-term senator may be vulnerable to a challenge -- presumably from former senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) -- largely because of voter dissatisfaction with the Democratic health-care legislation and the flight of independents from the Democratic Party.

The survey, which was conducted by GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, showed that six in 10 Indiana voters oppose the health-care plan and 32 percent support it. And the opposition to the legislation is passionate -- 48 percent said they strongly opposed the measure passed by the Senate.

Independents, who voted heavily for Obama and helped him shock the political world by carrying the Hoosier State in 2008, have swung in the opposite direction in the Conway poll; 40 percent said they would vote for an unnamed Republican candidate for office and 19 percent chose an unnamed Democrat.

Like all polls commissioned by a political party, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. And not all the numbers in it are bad for Bayh. Fifty-two percent of Indiana voters feel favorably toward him and 32 percent feel unfavorably -- solid numbers for any incumbent in a year like this one.

Perhaps most important, elections are not conducted between two generic candidates. While Conway concludes that "a credible candidate willing to run against Washington" is the right profile to beat Bayh, it's not clear that Coats, who is a lobbyist, fits that bill.

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