IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE?…. The only thing political reporters love more than accepting the conventional wisdom without question? Writing the contrarian piece that questions the conventional wisdom. With that in mind, the lead story at Politico today has this headline: “Why the GOP should still be nervous.”

Obviously, a lot of Republicans are going to scoff at this. For that matter, so will Dems. This has been an incredibly difficult week; Democrats feel demoralized; and Republicans feel giddy. Dems have a still-popular president and huge majorities in both chambers, but it’s the minority that’s feeling all of the momentum right now. To deny this is to deny reality.

But the various caveats are important. Less than 20% of the country actually approves of the direction of the Republican Party. The latest NBC/WSJ poll, released earlier this week, found those approving of the way President Obama is handling health care way down — but it’s still 12 points higher than those approving of the way congressional Republicans are handling the issue. Indeed, on pure favorability, Obama is 22 points higher than the GOP.

With that in mind, the piece from Jim VandeHei and James Hohmann is counter-intuitive, but not ridiculous.

Republicans are riding high in the wake of Scott Brown’s win, talking up an authentic resurgence for their party and a real chance for reclaiming power.

Don’t bet on it. […]

POLITICO talked with many of the country’s most experienced political operatives, and each one warned Republicans against irrational exuberance.

It may seem easy to forget, but the Republican brand is still awful, and the problems Democrats are struggling to fix right now were caused by the GOP. As angry as people are, the number of people who like and trust the Republican Party is still very small. That, coupled with internal divisions, weak fundraising, weak leadership, and the total absence of a policy agenda constitute meaningful hurdles for the GOP’s “comeback.”

Of course, the obstacles may not matter if recent trends continue. If the Democratic base is demoralized, and the Teabaggers don’t tear each other apart, Republicans will enjoy extraordinary gains by default — no matter how ridiculous, irresponsible, and wrong they’ve been.

But those who measure the drapes in January can be disappointed in November. Matthew Dowd, who consulted for former President George W. Bush and voted for President Barack Obama, said, “If any Republicans are running around town celebrating in jubilation, they should remember that in the country’s constant state of change, neither party gets more than a moment.”

Know what would really make things easier for Dems? If the House passes the Senate health care bill, and Democrats prove they’re capable of delivering on their agenda.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.