(CNN)Republicans are trying to turn the midterms on their head. Instead of the expected referendum on a still relatively unpopular Republican president, Republicans are hoping to bring Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi to the forefront.
- 1994: Gingrich sported a net favorability of -8 percentage points in a CNN survey conducted in late October. That made him far less popular than Democratic House leader (and Speaker) Tom Foley, whose favorable rating was above his unfavorable rating in two surveys conducted earlier in the month. Gingrich's popularity was about on par with that of Democratic President Bill Clinton. In the end, Republicans picked up 54 House seats and control of the chamber.
- 1998: Newt Gingrich was even less popular than in 1994. His net favorability rating was -24 percentage points in the exit poll that year, and his party became one of the few opposition parties to lose House seats in a midterm election. But while it is easy to assign House Republican problems to Gingrich's unpopularity, remember that Clinton's net approval rating at the time was about +35 percentage points -- about the highest for any president going into a midterm election since World War II.
- 2010: Boehner was not a popular man. His net favorability rating in CNN and ABC News/Washington Post polls over the final week of the election averaged -7 percentage points. That made him about as popular as Democratic President Barack Obama. Did it matter that Boehner wasn't super popular? No. Republicans won 63 seats and control of the House. Now, perhaps Republicans were helped additionally by the unpopularity of then-Speaker Pelosi, whose net favorability rating was south of -20 percentage points, which was a significant decline from her positive ratings before the 2006 midterm, when Democrats took control of the House. But again, the common theme is that the president's popularity is driving the results.
- 2014: Like Gingrich before him, Boehner was more unpopular after a few years as speaker. An October 2014 survey conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications put Boehner's net favorability at -24 percentage points. That was about equal to Pelosi's rating of -25 percentage points. It was far below the quite unpopular Obama's net approval rating of -16 percentage points in the same survey. In the end, it was Obama's net approval rating that mattered most. Democrats lost over a dozen seats.