But there are few signs that the president's economic messaging has changed. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently said Democrats own the economy, but they don't seem to be adapting their message to the bad economy likely to face them in November 2012.
2. Doubling down on manufacturing. The latest White House effort to wring good news out of a bad economy focuses on successes in the manufacturing sector: the auto bailout that put GM and Chrysler on sounder footing, as well as green initiatives.
Politically, it's a puzzling message. While there has been a small uptick in manufacturing jobs, it's hardly enough to be felt by the blue-collar electorate, who have been bearing the brunt of the recession and never viewed Obama too favorably in the first place. The latest Gallup weekly tracking poll shows Obama's approval with college graduates at 51 percent, with a 40 percent approval among nongraduates.
The president's emphasis on green jobs doesn't help. It's tough for many steelworkers to see themselves producing solar panels. Clean-energy jobs may be the future, but they're not seen by displaced workers as a panacea.
Instead, Obama's key to winning reelection is solidifying his support with college-educated whites, a swing demographic that has been more receptive to his message, along with high turnout among minorities. His key to victory is rallying white-collar professionals in swing-state suburbs, like Fairfax/Loudoun County, Va.; Wake County, N.C.; Franklin County, Ohio; Bucks County, Pa.; Clark County, Nev.--none hotbeds of manufacturing.
(PICTURES: Obama's Aides at White House Press Conference)
3. Fresh fundraising concerns. With a strong connection to the grassroots and expertise with social networking, President Obama's reelection team mastered the art of hitting up small donors in the 2008 campaign.
But there are telltale signs that the grassroots army that propelled him is in a much less giving mood. It's not a huge surprise; the bad economy has hit Obama's small donors too. When you're having trouble paying the bills, you're not exactly pining to pitch in hard-earned money to help a powerful president.
A sign Team Obama is looking elsewhere: A Los Angeles Times report that Obama's reelection team is already asking wealthy donors to commit the maximum $75,800 to the president's campaign funds.
If Obama's re-election starts looking more difficult next year, donors may well be inclined to give to the Democratic Senate and House campaign arms, seeing them as the better investment. But if they're locked in with early maximum donations to the president's re-election, that won't be doable.
4. Raising the stakes in the upper South. Obama's strategists are raising the stakes in the two battleground upper South states, North Carolina and Virginia.