Is the GOP finally winning?

David Winston, a veteran pollster for House Republicans, says an important strategy was drafted at a GOP retreat earlier this year in Williamsburg, Va. House Republicans “are focused on not simply making this a debate about the debt ceiling, but the general fiscal policy direction . . . putting into the mix the debt ceiling, continuing resolution, the budget, as part of a larger conversation rather than isolated incidents,” he told RCP. The strategy helps their effort to redefine themselves, but, he noted, “Republicans are still in a place that’s pretty challenging.”…

“The White House is trying anything they can to win right now,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the GOP leadership. “I think the president sort of got on the wrong side of this whole issue with the sequester by going out and using the scare tactics, and I think that’s kind of bit him.”

The president’s shift in tone rests better with the public, which is holding him accountable, a top Democratic aide said. “It is better when he looks like he’s getting stuff done,” the aide explained. “He’s reaching out and working with Republicans and trying to get something done rather than just trying to talk about the bad things that are going to happen.”

Many rank and file Republicans in the Senate welcome the president’s outreach and are open to a grand bargain on deficit reduction. But they are also working to impel the president on entitlements.