At the moment, the political environment appears to have come back down to earth. And, with the 2014 election back to looking more like a referendum on President Obama than House Republicans, we have updated our outlook to a GOP gain of zero to ten House seats.
The candidate most symbolic of the times is Democratic Omaha Councilman Pete Festersen, who entered the race against weak GOP Rep. Lee Terry (NE-02) in the midst of the shutdown but dropped out this week. This shouldn't come as a shock: every cycle has a "gut check" time when candidates reevaluate the climate or their own capabilities, and many candidates who come storming out of the gate in off-years find they can't sustain their momentum.
But for Democrats to have really built on their October progress, they would have needed 1) the promise of more Republican intransigence on continuing resolutions and debt ceilings, 2) more Republican retirements from marginal or semi-marginal districts, and 3) a raft of five to ten more "grade A" candidates in GOP-held districts. In the aftermath of the ACA's launch, none of the three have materialized.