America loves a winner, at least temporarily, it seems. Gallup reports that party self-identication shifted towards the GOP by five points from the weeks prior to the weeks after the midterm elections, with Republicans now leading Democrats by a 42/41 margin.

This “bandwagon effect” isn’t unusual after a big and much-hyped midterm gains, reported–unlike presidential election results–strictly in terms of party. The five-point post-election shift this year is small potatoes compared to a 16-point lurch towards the GOP after the 1994 elections, and is also smaller than the 9-point shift in 2002 and the 8-point Democratic gain in 2006.

But it all tends to deflate pretty quickly like helium-filled balloons at an Election Night rally. The huge 1994 gains in Republican self-identification were gone by the following March, and that was the outlier: in 2002 things had returned to the pre-election status quo ante by the beginning of the next year, and in 2006 the Democratic gains dissipated in just a month. The first high-profile Republican screwup, on which GOP leaders are working hard this very day, should do the trick.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.