Because a small, but significant, number of conservatives have become frustrated with Republican governance and independent swing voters are turning against GOP candidates, Democrats appear to be edging closer to gaining a majority of House seats.
Just four weeks before Election Day, numerous polls — all taken after the surfacing of the Capitol Hill page sex scandal involving former Republican congressman Mark Foley, but before North Korea's announcement of its first nuclear test — show Democratic candidates with huge leads over Republicans.
Going into the final 26 days of the midterm-election campaigns, the pundits and the analysts are moving more and more Republican-held congressional seats out of the "safe" column, and laying improving odds upon the Democratic Party's chances of seizing control of at least the House of Representatives.
Republican campaign officials are now saying that they expect to lose at least seven House seats, and perhaps as many as 30 in the November 7 elections. In order to achieve majority control of Congress, the Democrats must pick up 15 seats in the House, and six in the Senate.
Amazingly, and very much unlike most past elections, every Democratic incumbent is favored to win re-election and the Democrats are spending money to defend only a few seats, which means that their party's candidates are far less vulnerable to the GOP's campaign finance advantage.
An October 6-8 USA TODAY/Gallup poll showed that Democrats had a 23-point lead over Republicans on which party's House candidate would get their vote - the Democrats' greatest advantage among registered voters since 1978, and twice the lead the GOP had one month before they gained control of Congress in 1994.
However, a Democratic Party takeover of the House is not a foregone conclusion because of congressional redistricting plans that have given huge advantages to Republican incumbents. Additionally, internal Democratic polls show that the effects of the "Foley Factor" are confined to only a half-dozen races.
Less than 50 of the 435 House seats are actually competitive, and House races are usually shaped by local issues and personalities, with the closest often being decided upon which party can turn out more of its loyal voters.
The Republican Party is urging its candidates to stress local issues that could make their Democratic opponents into unpalatable alternatives; while the GOP leaders attempt to mitigate the “Foley Factor” by accusing Democrats of trying to politicize it.