I followed the special election in Ohio's 2nd district very closely in 2005, as did most of us here at Newshoggers. The GOP has apparently settled on their narrow loss in Massachusetts as a replay of that bellweather race, but they've got to be smoking something.
The issues that Democrats were promoting were a big piece of Paul Hackett's appeal, and ultimately (in tandem with GOP criminality, poor performance, and scandal) led to the 2006 Democratic triumph at the polls.
The issues the Republicans are running on are complete crap. They are totally out of touch with the desires of the electorate with their "Iraq forever", "Bomb Iran!", "Screw your family's health care needs", "Double Guantanamo", "I AM JACK BAUER" machismo battle. Note to the GOP: your platform is a loser. We're fed the hell up with your lack of ideas and your obstructionism.
After Hackett's race, the GOP was quick to say that it indicated Bush's continuing popularity among voters. That pretense is long gone. The Democratic House has held more votes than any in history, and the Republican minority in the senate has filibustered at triple the rate of recent senates combined.
Look, it's great for a party in decline to get a glimmer of good news. You hate to see a guy kicked when he's down. But I don't believe for a second that when Americans are asked to either return the GOP to power or expand the Democratic majority into the terrain of veto-proof, they're going to do anything but vote for functional government.