Tough Sledding for Incumbents in Congress

With so much anger in the country, a lot of Congressional incumbents are in trouble this election year, For the Democrats, those worries are big enough now that President Obama took to the campaign trail today to try to help protect some seats, as CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid reports.

President Obama was in full campaign mode today as he tried to light a fire under the struggling campaign of Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Bennet is behind in the polls in an election year that's looking more and more perilous for incumbents

With voters angry over everything from 10 percent unemployment to Wall Street bailouts, the mood in the country is increasingly: throw the bums out

"The voting public is in the mood to punish," said CBS News political contributor John Dickerson. "Eighty-one percent say they don't like the incumbent and that hurts the Democrats since they are in power in both the House and the Senate and the White House"

Even some long-term Democrats are in trouble. Tomorrow the president campaigns in Nevada for Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who's trailing his potential Republican challengers in the polls

Other Senate incumbents facing tough challenges include Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

In the House, about 50 Democratic seats are competitive. Some Republicans predict, or at least hope, this year could rival 1994 when Republicans picked up 54 seats and took control of the House.

"2010 will be a phenomenal year for the conservative cause and I think Barack Obama is a one-term president," Dick Cheney recently told a gathering of conservatives.

But Republican incumbents have a big problem of their own this year. Across the country, tea party activists are challenging sitting Republicans, claiming they're not conservative enough.

Even 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain faces a primary against tea partier and former Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

"I do have some serious and profound disagreements with John about the choices he's made as our senator," Hayworth said.

With the president's approval rating now below 50 percent, it's not clear how much it helps for him to be out campaigning. In recent months he's campaigned for three Democrats - and all three lost.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.