Setting the stage for a Republican comeback

As absurd as it sounds, Republicans could be poised for a comeback by the mid-term elections of 2010.

Helped by Democratic arrogance and signs that President Barack Obama’s popularity may be slipping as Americans get a closer look at the real cost of his all-government, all-the-time ideas of chance, the GOP could become the lesser of two evils in the minds of voters by the time voters get another chance to voice their displeasure at how things are going in Washington.

Far-fetched? Yes. Impossible? Not really.

American voters are a fickle bunch and even strong support for a currently-popular President can change quickly. Cracks are already starting to show in Obama’s strong public approval ratings and the error-prone Democratic leadership of Congress may be the best friend Republicans have when it comes to staging a comeback.

Stranger things have happened in the byzantine world of American politics.

Politico ponders this question:

For the first time since their 2006 election drubbing, top Republicans see signs — however faint — of a political resurgence over the next year.

At first blush, this sounds absurd. After all, polls show the GOP more unpopular than ever, and the John Ensign sex scandal serves as a vivid, real-time reminder of why many see the party as a collection of hypocrites.

But several trends suggest this optimism might not be as far-fetched as it seems.

Polls show that the GOP is wise to focus most of its attacks on spending, government intervention and job losses. (Those same polls show the public has low regard for Republicans on these issues, but it’s a significant development that President Barack Obama’s numbers are slipping in these areas, too.) And just as importantly, GOP leaders on Capitol Hill privately recognize the need to distance themselves a bit from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich — even though they’ve done poor job of doing so thus far.

This combination of exploiting the unpopular parts of the Democratic Party and moving beyond the unpopular parts of their own is a start. But it will take a lot more to undo years of self-inflicted damage during the Bush years.