Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - Hardly a week goes by that we don't read about the Republican Party's "political problems" in the news media who insist the GOP has become widely unpopular with voters.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are portrayed as a unified party, with rarely a disagreement among them, and as the dominant political force in the country by virtue of their victory in the 2012 presidential election, slight gains in the House and Senate and, well, the people who need to be in charge of the nation's government.

But a closer examination of the political lay of the land reveals a far different story of the GOP's growing strength in recent state elections, its much broader structural base in our political system, and the growing expectation they'll make House and Senate gains in the midterm elections in 2014.

It hardly merits a peep in the Washington national news media, but the Republicans control a large majority of the nation's governorships, including many Democratic-leaning states.

The GOP holds 30 of the 50 governorships, winning 23 out of the 37 gubernatorial elections in 2010, the year the Republicans crushed the Democrats in a wave election that was seen as a nationwide repudiation of President Obama and his party's big government, big spending policies.

Twenty of these GOP governors are up for re-election next year. Many are in heavily Democratic states that are politically pivotal presidential battlegrounds in the upper Midwest that could shape the political climate for the 2016 race for the White House.

But these GOP executives have proven to be far more successful than the Democrats anticipated, turning around their economies, cutting budgets, eliminating deficits, and getting higher job approval polls, to boot.

Ohio's John Kasich, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Iowa's Terry Branstad, and Michigan's Rick Snyder are among the GOP's new crop of state GOP superstars, some of whom are being seen as possible presidential contenders.

And their success on bread-and-butter economic issues has produced a sharp contrast with the Democrats' abject failure in Washington to get the national economy back on track.

That contrast turned sharper this week when the Gallup Poll reported Thursday that Obama's economic approval score has plummeted to the mid-30 percent range in a new sign that more voters are growing increasingly angry over his failed economic policies.

"Despite President Obama's renewed focus on the nation's economy this summer, he scored worse with Americans on the economy than he did in June," Gallup said.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.