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Is the GOP making a comeback?

From NBC's Mark Murray
Here is our take from last week's Republican Governors Association meeting in Texas.

CEDAR CREEK, Texas - The message that the Republican Governors Association was trying to send to the donors, party big-wigs and political reporters who attended its annual meeting last week wasn't subtle.

The Republican Party, the RGA boasted, is making a comeback.

They underscored this in a video presentation to attendees. "America's comeback starts with us," said the narrator in the video. "We are the Republican governors."

There was even a "Comeback Bash" that concluded the meeting.

And these kinds of declarations were commonplace. "Next year is going to be a good year for us," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the RGA.

After the GOP's political setbacks in 2006 and 2008, there is little doubt that the political winds have shifted. Earlier this month, Republicans won the gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia, two states where Republicans hadn't enjoyed much recent success.

What's more, President Barack Obama's poll numbers have fallen back to earth (and his job rating is now below 50 percent, according to the Gallup poll). Public support for his key initiatives — health care and the economic stimulus — is mixed at best. And the unemployment rate now tops 10 percent.

"For the first time since 2004, the playing field has tilted against Democrats," said political analyst Jennifer Duffy, who monitors Senate and gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

But talking about a comeback is one thing; actually achieving it — in next year's midterm elections and beyond — is another.

Here's the full story.