This should be an easy year for Democrats.
A record percentage of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction -- and after years of mostly Republican rule, that should help Democrats.
Meanwhile, the media hype surrounding Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama is unprecedented and often unquestioning. National media have set him up as some sort of messiah.
And after a pitched primary battle in which he emerged victorious, you would think Obama would appear unbeatable by now.
By contrast, after an anti-climactic fizzle of a Republican primary, John McCain has sort of stumbled out of the gate for the general election, appearing unable to find his footing and to define his campaign clearly.
Yet, a recent Rasmussen poll amazingly has the two candidates tied at this point.
The Obama campaign plans a football-stadium acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in August. And his speech will coincide with the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Obama is sure to get a huge bounce from all that.
But by all rights, he should be starting from a stronger position than he seems to be. That can't be good news for Democrats. And consider: A Washington Post/ABC News poll says 72 percent think McCain would be a good commander-in-chief, but only 48 percent think Obama would.
Moreover, despite Obama's reputation for oratory, runners-up from the Republican primary can tell you what a savagely effective debater McCain is.
Polls at this point don't mean much. But they are signposts on a long journey.
Directions can change quickly on a political odyssey. But right now, the signs aren't good for Obama.