This from a post at fivethirtyeight.com:
Republicans were crowing about socialism and government takeovers way back in the summer of 2008, and opposing virtually every policy that the Democrats put forth from the first meeting of the 111th Congress last January — a time when Obama’s approval had been in the high 60s. At first, those messages weren’t working for them — they were particularly ineffectual, for instance, for the McCain campaign, and there were lots of stories in the spring about the number of people who identified as Republican slipping to all-time lows. But the GOP stuck by their messaging strategy, and it has allowed them to frame everything that has come thereafter in ways that are more resonant with the public.
This reminds me of the NFC Championship football game between the Saints and the Vikings. The Saints defensive game plan included an emphasis on hitting Bret Favre. They got several hits on him but failed to sack him. Still, they did not change the plan. Favre threw for 310 yards, but still the Saints worked to hit Favre. Sure enough, before the game was over, Favre rewarded them by throwing three interceptions (the stats say two because the Saints did not catch one of the balls thrown right to them).
And the Saint won.