Jonathan Cohn imagines a world where Obama gave up on his domestic agenda:
Insofar as policy decisions really have hurt this administration, I would argue (as have others) that the rescue packages for Wall Street and the auto industry were the biggest liabilities. People got "bailout" fatigue pretty quickly and came to associate the administration with handing money to people and companies that didn't deserve it, which is a sure-fire way to destroy faith in government.
But the alternative universe in which the government doesn't take these steps is, most likely, an alternative universe in which the economy is worse. Maybe a lot worse. It's hard to see how, in that universe, the political situation for Obama and the Democrats is better than it is today.