Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Ever since President Obama won re-election, the news media and their pundits want us to think the Republican Party is in steep decline.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Obama won only 51.1 percent of the popular vote, hardly a strong vote of confidence in his presidency -- though he managed to turn out just enough voters in a handful of swing states to win 332 electoral votes.

But dig a little deeper into last year's elections and the nation's electoral infrastructure, and a far different political reality emerges: Republicans are much stronger than they are routinely portrayed in the national media.

While Obama carried just 26 states (hardly a re-election score to write home about), Mitt Romney carried 24. At the congressional district level, Obama won 207 districts, but Romney carried 228.

This suggests that the GOP has a significant amount of ground support nationally that could lead to future House and Senate victories.

Elsewhere, Democrats are becoming an endangered species among the nation's governorships, suggesting that voters are increasingly turning to the GOP to fix problems closest to home. And at the state legislative level, Republicans remain a power to be reckoned with, too. Their governors and state legislatures are now in control of nearly half the states.

The GOP now holds 30 of the nation's 50 governorships, and many are in some of the bluest, most Democratic-leaning states in the country: Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, Chris Christie in New Jersey, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Brian Sandoval in Nevada and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

These are states Democrats usually carry in presidential elections, but voters have been increasingly turning to the Republicans to deal with severe unemployment, higher taxes and deepening debt.

The number of GOP governors is now at the highest level (held by either party) in at least a dozen years. And in a number of cases, they have turned their states around.

In Ohio, for example, Kasich has turned an $8 billion budget deficit into a projected $1 billion surplus. When he was elected in 2010, Ohio's unemployment rate was 10.9 percent. He has aggressively courted big businesses to come into Ohio, and the state's jobless rate is now at 6.7 percent, well below the nearly 8 percent national average.

In heavily Democratic New Jersey, Christie's latest job approval polls have him tied with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the highest rating of any governor in the country.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.