A few days ago, I noted that the fundamentals of this election are still on the president’s side. According to most models, Obama is projected to win a small majority of the vote on account of relative economic growth and a sufficiently high approval rating. On that note, political scientist Alan Abramowitz has released the first forecast from his “Time for Change” model, which uses June approval, second quarter GDP, and incumbency to project the president’s share of the two-party vote. Because of intense polarization in the electorate, Abramowitz added that as an additional variable.
Presidential elections tend to suck up all the air in an election season, and the (probable) Romney-Obama race is already the dominant plotline seven months away from Election Day. But as the tribulations of Obama's first three years and office made evident, the fate of Congressional races often dictate the direction of policy.
Republicans' gains in the 2010 midterms paired with a year of redistricting has likely entrenched their House majority for at least another term. And Democrats entered the year with an uphill battle in the Senate. The party must defend 23 seats compared to just 10 for Republicans.