OBAMA KICKS OFF MIDTERM CAMPAIGN SEASON PUSH…. President Obama has already taken some steps to help shape the midterm elections — raising money, helping recruit candidates, etc. — but today, those efforts will take a significant leap forward.

This video message will go out to Obama supporters today, putting the president at the heart of the Democrats’ midterm strategy. The clip is reportedly “the first in a series of personal efforts designed to rekindle the grass-roots magic that propelled him to the presidency in service to his party’s congressional and gubernatorial candidates.”

It’s also part of a larger kickoff, built around the DNC’s $50 million plan for the cycle. Party chair Tim Kaine has a “community-by-community” plan that’s intended to build upon Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy from the 2006 midterms (which, as I recall, turned out well for Dems).

The pitch is pretty straightforward — the Obama campaign brought a lot of people into the process two years ago, and if they get engaged again this year, it’ll help Democratic candidates considerably. “A few months ago, we asked you to help us set our priorities for 2010, and tell us how you thought we could win elections at all levels of government,” the president says in the video. “You told us your first priority was to make sure the same people who were inspired to vote for the first time in 2008 go back to the polls in 2010. So that’s what we’re going to do.”

The alternative, the president reminds his audience, is GOP gains that could “undo all that we have accomplished.”

There’s reason for skepticism. As Dems saw in the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, voters can like the president but nevertheless reject the candidates the president backs.

But aides say they’re prepared. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said, “We fully understand that [the relationship between Obama and his supporters is] not automatically transferable to other candidates. It’s going to take a lot of work, and that’s what we’re doing.”

At a minimum, it settles the question about whether Dems are prepared to nationalize the elections, and whether the president would be considered a strategic asset to the party during a difficult year.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.