House generic congressional ballot, Jan 2013 - June 2014
Democrats started 2013 with the halo glow of the Obama re-election and dominant Democratic victories in the Senate. That lead whittled down with Obama's approval numbers over the year, until October 2013, when the Republicans shut down the government. At the height of the shutdown, Democrats enjoyed a nearly seven-point lead in the generic congressional ballot, numbers that would give us House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But alas, Democrats ceded all those gains when the administration was unable to launch Healthcare.gov in working order. For Republicans whose key tenet is "government is broken," it was an unforced error, and one from which Democrats haven't fully recovered.
But the GOP's bump didn't last long, and faded as the website finally worked. And they faded and sat in the high 30s until the first two weeks of April. The good news from the ACA seemed to galvanize both sides initially, though Democrats got the bigger and more lasting bump from news that 8 million Americans had signed up, surpassing even the optimistic projections of 7 million.
So Republicans tried to change the subject from repeal, because that was no longer politically expedient. There was Cliven Bundy, and we know how that turned out. Then lots of screaming about the Benghazi Select Committee, but the GOP continued their downward trajectory. Bergdahl didn't change matters, and now the Republicans are stuck just shy of 40 percent.
Note what HASN'T changed any numbers—the relentless millions that Koch and his friends have spent hammering Democrats. The Kochs started spending heavily late last year, so they can't even take credit for the early-2013 Democratic slide. That appears to be more voter fatigue than anything else. And the GOP's high-water mark over the past 18 months has been 42 percent, and they've spent most of that time in the 30s. Are those the numbers of a party that fancies itself the majority?
Of course not. Whatever advantages the GOP has this fall, it has them because of the cycle's expected voter profile. There is no broad clamoring for GOP leadership in this country. Quite the opposite, actually.