You can't listen to more than a few minutes of the US news media these days without hearing speculation about whether the 'tide' will appear this November. No, not some strange meteorological phenomenon, but a voter tide to sweep away over a decade of Republican Congressional dominance in Washington. Recent polls put the Democrats anything up to an astonishing 21 points ahead.
In just over three weeks, Americans elect their entire House of Representatives, as well as a third of seats to the Senate. The Democrats start with an inbuilt disadvantage, both in terms of money, and in terms of what is quaintly called here 'redistricting', or what the more cynical/honest might name gerrymandering. So even if they win the popular vote handsomely, they could still fail to regain Congress. And the Republicans could well see a last minute surge. But it seems beyond doubt that the American public have fallen seriously out of love with the current party of power.
Where has it gone wrong for Republicans? Probably the singe main reason is Iraq, which continues to dominate the news here much more than it does back in Britain. But there are other issues that form a troubling background for the Grand Old Party as it is known, issues that have chimed with the American public and on which the Republicans found themselves on the wrong side of the argument. There is a sense that the Republican party has lost the knack of understanding the American public.
For me, as an outside observer living in the States, the first sign of this shift was the 2005 case in Florida of Terri Schiavo, the woman in a persistent vegetative state in whose case Congress tried, and failed, to intervene. This story was almost uniformly misreported in the UK - where it was seen, wrongly, as a debate about euthanasia. In reality, it was a debate about the role of families, individuals, and the government. Congress sought to deprive families of their right to take the most intimate and personal decisions and instead put these decisions in the hands of agents of the state. Not surprisingly, Americans rejected such a proposal overwhelmingly.
In the Schiavo case, Republicans showed themselves to have misunderstood their own people - a damning indictment for any party. They have never really regained their poise since. This November just might see the people land a knock-out punch.