Another video from the Canadian election whose overall lesson is quite applicable to the American situation. Rick Mercer is the host of the CBC comedy Monday Report, which is a weekly Daily Show-type thing. Mercer is a very popular comedian in Canada, but IMO he became less funny when he left the endlessly hilarious This Hour Has 22 Minutes team. This video is from several months ago:
Anyway, the Canada-specific context is that, since the Tories formed a government with less than 50% of the seats in the federal Parliament (aka, a "minority government"), they were in a weak position at the beginning. The weakest point is always the passing of a budget---if the Parliament rejects the government's budget, the government is deadlocked. The Crown must step in, and in a democratic society, the only thing the Crown can do is either find an alternative coalition that can pass a budget (unlikely) or call an election.
The Liberal party was never willing to call the government's bluff, so the Tories were able to do what they wanted in the budget, and rule almost as a majority. The consequence is that it's much harder for the Liberals to articulate what would be different if the Tories had a majority. The reason why they were afraid was that they thought Canadians were suffering from election fatigue, and would destroy them if they did---and they didn't feel ready for an election.
Worse (for the Liberals) is the fact that the NDP fairly early on that it had no compunction about flushing the government, and would do so the minute it had the opportunity. Under the discipline of Jack Layton, the money-poor NDP has been ready for an election well before the Liberals, who still look unprepared. This means that the NDP is closer than it ever has been to replacing the Liberals as the main opposition. (It is still unlikely, but the very thought sends shivers down the spine of Liberal politicians. And the NDP is stronger in Québec than it ever has been, and may retain a seat won in an off-season election, something that's never happened in a general election.)
It turns out that it is always better to oppose, even if you are unprepared.
Aside from this NDP detail, however, I leave it to US readers' imagination what analogous lesson can be drawn for the Democratic Party, particularly this Congress and its odd unpopularity.