Washington (CNN) - A chief political strategist for President Obama sought Thursday to dispel the idea the upcoming midterms are similar to the 1994 elections when Republicans swept Democrats out of power in Congress. But David Plouffe, who served as Obama's presidential campaign manager, acknowledged his party is up against "some headwinds" in the march towards November 2.
Plouffe, a senior advisor at the Democratic National Committee, said that 16 years ago Democrats were "caught by surprise at the end" by the GOP's momentum and noted at this same point in that election cycle "voters had largely decided" how they were going to vote.
"That is not what is going on here at all," Plouffe said to a group of reporters at DNC headquarters.
He noted that party leaders were starting "to see signs of progress" including an uptick in enthusiasm among loyal Democrats and noted Obama is committed to helping convince the same people who voted for him in 2008 to return to the polls in 26 days for congressional Democrats. A main theme in this election cycle is the so-called enthusiasm gap between energized Republicans and less than enthusiastic Democrats.
Asked to define success in the midterms, Plouffe offered a broad explanation saying, "We are just trying to do as well as we can." Translation: keeping control of the House and Senate.
"I think there is a pathway to do that," he said.
Still, Plouffe conceded that the macro environment, especially now, favored Republicans.
"I don't think any of us would like the election to be called tomorrow," he said.
Looking ahead to 2012, he noted that Obama would run a "grassroots campaign" and predicted efforts by ardent conservatives to pull the GOP farther away from the political center would alienate "moderate voters" heading into 2012.
Plouffe, who did not join the White House when Obama was elected, was non-committal about his own future plans. "I have no idea what my future holds," he said.
It has been rumored Plouffe will join the Obama administration when David Axelrod, a White House senior advisor, returns to Chicago to turn the lights on for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.