The interviews came after then-President George W. Bush had begun the GOP’s fall offensive, built around the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and an effort to make national security a more significant issue in the campaign. What’s eerie is that Republicans then were saying some of the same things Democrats are saying now.

“I’m feeling better about some of the races,” one Republican pollster said at the time. “The campaigns are making a difference.”

“There’s a real sigh of relief for Republican operatives,” said another. “Unlike 1994, when Democrats were caught off guard, Republican strategists are pretty focused on the environment we’re in and being tactically competent and aggressive. . . . We all know this is going to be a game of inches.”

A Democrat said: “A lot of the polls we’ve done this year [showed that] Democrats were more energized behind Democrats than Republicans were. Republicans [now] seem to be awakening and coming back to their partisan senses.”

A few weeks later, they were despairing once again.