The three weeks left until the midterm elections appears an eerily quiet calm before the storm. And quiet though it may be, it presages a coming asteroid strike that Washington’s beltway elites are doing their level best to ignore.

For those who care to look, the danger is obvious, yet the present calm creates the illusion that safety for Democrats is possible. Unfortunately, the damage coming is not like anything seen by the left or the right in generations. The damage promises to be so severe that existing labels of severity won’t suffice.

Right now, well before the coming Election Day cataclysm, there are 10 Senate races where Republican challengers are polling ahead of the Democrat incumbent. There are at least four other races where incumbent Democrats are at or below 50% support. There are 80 House races where the Democrats are polling below 50%, and in nearly half of those the Republican is ahead. Presently Democrats hold 26 governorships, yet according to existing polls, they lead outside the margin of error sufficiently to retain only 16 mansions.

Devastating numbers like these should be viewed by the party as an existential crisis.

It is ironic that this is the current state of affairs, as the Democrats have had quite a bit of time to prepare. Rather than acknowledge that their errors caused the political calamity, Democrats in Congress and their enablers in the White House have stubbornly announced that they can ride this out. Their willful refusal to accept the reality of the impending danger they face approaches suicidal. Their efforts to go on offense, including the “blame Bush,” “foreign donors,” or “extremist/racist” themes, are not only ineffective, they are rallying an already energetic GOP and independent electorate.

The warning signs have been steady, a long time in the making. The political Doppler system issued its first alert with the creation of the “Tea Party” movement, which spontaneously grew out of CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009. The next sign was the surprisingly large number of “Tea Party” participants at an anti-tax rally on April 15 — media accounts reported over half a million participants nationwide. This was followed by a series of disruptive and boisterous town hall meetings through the summer of 2009 over the pending ObamaCare effort.

At the same time, President Obama’s approval ratings began their dramatic descent, a steady downward trend that would erase nearly 35 points of his public support and put him among the least popular presidents heading into a first midterm in 40 years. If you can imagine, the ratings of Congress plummeted even faster — first mirroring, then coveting the ratings of British Petroleum.

By the time of the sizable GOP victories last year in Virginia and New Jersey (states that Obama had carried in 2008) and the upset election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts this year, the die had been cast.