WASHINGTON -- After the Republicans' trouncing in the 2008 elections put the Democrats back in the White House and strengthened their grip on Congress, party strategists were gleefully writing the GOP's obituary.
"Absent huge Democratic mistakes in the next few years, the Republican Party's road back could very well be a long one," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network (NDN), at the time.
Now, nine months after Republicans' worst political debacle in decades, President Obama and his party are slipping in the polls, and the GOP is poised for a political comeback. Independent pollsters and analysts who track the elections say Republicans will make gains in the governorships and win back a number of House seats in the 2009-2010 election cycle.
A mere six months into his presidency, Obama's approval ratings have fallen from the 70s to the low 50s or high 40s, and the Democrats' once-mighty lead in generic congressional polls has narrowed dramatically.
In what is being seen as a harbinger of next year's midterm elections, Republicans are leading in this year's two gubernatorial races in Virginia and heavily Democratic New Jersey by double digits. Democratic healthcare overhaul legislation has triggered angry nationwide protests and is now opposed by a majority of the American people. Obama's economic-stimulus policies are widely seen as a failure. A looming $1.8 trillion deficit fueled by out-of-control spending has sent the Democrats' poll numbers into a nose dive.
Republicans, championing lower taxes and spending cuts, are not only expected to make gains in congressional districts but have improved their chances in a number of Senate contests as well.
The GOP's fundraising is up, too. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, chaired by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has added 66,000 new donors to its contributor file this year.
Clearly, the mood of the voters has shifted, and it appears to be moving in the GOP's direction on several fronts.
"It would be hard to envision a political landscape as tilted against the Republicans as it was in 2006 and 2008. There is now a body of polling data to suggest that the generic congressional ballot has closed," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor and elections analyst at the Cook Political Report.
"In the NBC/Wall Street Journal (poll), Democrats have a seven-point advantage, the smallest it's been since April of 2006. That is all good news for Republicans," Duffy told me.
The independent Gallup Poll reported that "If the elections were held today, 50 percent of U.S. registered voters say they would vote for the Democratic candidate in their district and 44 percent for the Republican candidate."