"The [House] majority is at risk"

In both years, ’98 and ’06, Republicans concentrated more on going after Democrats than on laying out a solid plan for governance. They were the opposition party more than the alternative party. And they suffered for it.

What is the GOP plan for 2014? It’s not clear. But there are indications some Republicans believe that, with a weakening president, a strategy based mostly on opposing Democrats will be enough to keep control of the House. But voters are sending some warning signals.

They’re still not happy with the economy. How could they be, with unemployment at 7.4 percent? Whatever Barack Obama does, whatever Republicans do, unless something huge happens, the public’s top issue will remain the economy for quite a while.

GOP strategists look at the president’s job approval rating on the economy and see an opportunity. A recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, found that 54 percent of those surveyed do not approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. Yet when the pollsters asked who respondents trusted to do a better job with economic issues — Obama or Republicans in Congress — respondents chose Obama, 45 percent to 39 percent.

Lots of other polls have shown similar results. Voters don’t approve of the way Obama is handling the economy. Yet they prefer him over Republicans.