On Election Day 2014 it will be exactly 4 years, one entire term of a President, since President Obama took a "shellacking" losing the House to Republicans and creating the least productive 2 Congress' in history. After losing, President Obama had the idea of cutting deals with the Republicans that were decent for each side and things Americans would like. He extended the Bush tax cuts for 2 years in 2010, then made the very unpopular deal in 2011 that created the sequester. He learned his lesson afterward, no more talking with a gun to his head.
The President changed his tactic. He was no longer going to talk to Republicans about doing basic things like keeping the government open and paying America's bills. This was a gamble on his part, as noted by the New York Times, but it paid off. When asked in a recent NBC Poll only 23% approved the idea of continuing the government shutdown in effort to hurt Obamacare. 63% either opposed or opposed continuing shutdown. That very same poll put Republican popularity at a record low 24% and 53% blame for the shutdown.
President Obama's approval since the shutdown, overall, has trended up a 2-3 points. Rasmussen has had him 48-52 percent approval, Gallup in the mid 40s. The NBC poll put the President at 47%, up 2 points since September. The President is also viewed positively 47-41 and Democrats basically tied at 39-40.
Generic congressional vote polls have shown Democrats winning by 5-10 margins. These polls don't equate to gaining control of a Legislative house, but they certainly help your chances. Steve Israel, in a closed door meeting, said that it has become easier and more likely to recruit Democrats in tough GOP districts for next year.
A PPP pollreleased earlier this month shows Republicans losing in 17 competitive House districts, enough to put the gavel in the hands of Nancy Pelosi. This obviously doesn't account for other districts Democrats may be vulnerable in, but it points out that even in specific congressional districts, Republicans are in danger.
In the Senate, Republicans were hopeful that they could take control, but today PPP released a poll that showed Republicans trailing in 5 races and tied in the 6th. When added the Republican supported the shutdown, their numbers dropped further.
There are a couple other factors to look at. First, the shutdown. Second, the Tea Party. The shutdown has hurt Republicans. Their favorability is in the toilet, down in generic challenges, and can't get their caucus together. When added that a Republican supported the challenge, their poll numbers drop even more. You can bet Democrats will be using this as a talking point next year. The Senate deal that is expected to be passed at any moment also has implications for Republicans. In January we will have to have yet another budget battle, and debt limit in February. With President Obama and Democrats agreeing to talk, but without a gun to their head, it is their best bet to try and advance offers over the next few months. Because, Ted Cruz and the extreme right wing is likely to try again early next year taking America hostage. Ted Cruz in fact is still urging Republicans to vote "no" to the Senate deal about to be taken up.
Secondly, the Tea Party. Republicans and Americans view of the Tea Party has decreased. Moderates are lining themselves against the extreme right wing, but this is not enough to stop them. The Tea Party and their allies have already said that they plan to target members who sided with deals not doing something to Obamacare in the primaries. Tough primary challenges for Republicans as they find new parts of the right wing all the while Democrats reminding voters of Republicans extremism can help put them in the winners circle.
The election is just over a year away. Polls are going to change, variables will change, but the point is Democrats can take back the House and retain the Senate. It is possible. History shows it's unlikely, but history also said Barack Obama probably wouldn't be President and especially not for two terms. Never in history has a party sunk so low, never has a party split and voted out long term members because they were open to compromise. There is no guarantee which way the votes will go at this point, but it is foolish to discount the Democrats at this point.