The PowerPoint slides presented to House Republicans in January 2009 seemed incongruously optimistic at a time when the very word “hope” belonged to the newly ascendant Democrats and their incoming president, Barack Obama.
“If the goal of the majority is to govern, what is the purpose of the minority?” one slide asked.
“The purpose of the minority,” came the answer, “is to become the majority.”
The presentation was the product of a strategy session held 11 days before Mr. Obama’s inauguration, when top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives began devising an early blueprint for what they would accomplish in Tuesday’s election: their comeback.
How they did it is the story of one of the most remarkable Congressional campaigns in more than a half-century, characterized by careful plotting by Republicans, miscalculations by Democrats and a new political dynamic with forces out of both parties’ control. The unpredictable Tea Party movement, the torrent of corporate money from outside interests and an electorate with deep discontent helped shift the balance of power in Washington.