Republicans and Democrats are tied at 46% among registered voters in Gallup’s weekly tracking of congressional voting preferences, marking a shift after five consecutive weeks in which the Republicans held the advantage. ~Gallup

Despite the change in polling, I recommend Jim Antle’s article on the midterms. He presents Republican advantages and disadvantages in a fair and matter-of-fact way, and he manages to go through the entire article without once referring to John Boehner as Speaker, which is more than we can say for some others. Of course, I suppose I would say that Jim is making sense when he writes the following:

The common thread in special elections Democrats have won is that they have succeeded in putting distance between themselves and the national party brand while their Republican opponents have tried to nationalize the election. Brown, by contrast, was successful in combining national and local themes while Coakley often behaved as if she had been dropped into Massachusetts by a UFO from Mars.

But how successful can Democratic incumbents be at denationalizing their races if they have a proven track record of voting in lockstep with the national party on controversial issues? The conditions do seem right for Republicans to retake Congress, with the major caveat of whether Republicans are prepared to take advantage of these conditions.

I wonder if the change in Gallup’s polling is going to temper any of the “tsunami” claims we’ve been hearing. Perhaps the best indication that the tsunami idea was mistaken was that Mark Halperin declared it to be obviously true.

One of the reasons why I continue to be bearish on Republican chances this fall is that I have close to zero confidence in the organizational and political skills of Republican leaders, especially when compared to their counterparts on the other side. This is that critical matter of being prepared to take advantage of favorable conditions. Even if there is the possibility of a “tsunami,” which is questionable, who actually believes that the Republican leadership currently in place can deliver? These are people so clueless that they want to rehash the “surge” debate two months before an election, apparently not realizing that the public is so eager to be out of Iraq that they will happily indulge Obama in his fabrication that “combat operations” have ended there.

Four years ago, the NRCC under Tom Reynolds was simply not up to the job of holding the House. In the next cycle, the likeable, doomed Tom Cole faced off against Chris van Hollen and his organization and lost, and now Pete Sessions is hoping to climb an even steeper hill than Cole faced and somehow outperform van Hollen. To this day, Republican leaders have no idea why they were sent into the minority. Sessions has the task of winning more seats in the House than the Democrats won in either of their successful cycles, and so far during his tenure Republicans haven’t won a single competitive special election except for the flukey result in Hawaii. It wasn’t just that things didn’t break the Republicans’ way in those cases. I would argue that was the intervention of the national party in the New York special elections and their candidates’ mouthing of cookie-cutter partisan platitudes that threw those seats to the Democrats. GOP leaders have made quite a habit of counting their seats before they are won, and it keeps blowing up in their faces. One would think they would learn by now to stop doing it, but these are not leaders who are interested in learning anything.