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Also noteworthy is the lack of reaction in the polls to gridlock and, let’s say it, incompetence in Washington. The president was not being heavily penalized by the public for the conspicuous lack of activity in the nation’s capital during the first five months of the year. Congress’ poll rating took the brunt of the hit for that.

But when government was shown to be intentionally diminishing people’s freedom, that was when voters took notice and began to express more resentment toward the president.

Past presidents also have seen their popularity dip as they approached the middle of the first year of their second terms. Mr. Obama might have simply reached that not-so-magic moment in his swan-song term.

The apparent instigation for the change is worth noting, especially by Republicans who have been struggling to find their voices.

Politics, like so many other things in life, moves in cycles. Its trends ebb and flow. We finally may be seeing the turning of the tide on the issue of big government.

The opposition party now has an opening to appeal to a broader public. Its resurgent leave-us-alone faction has a chance to win popular support as long as it doesn’t overreach.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum is a Washington Times columnist, a Fox News contributor and president of BGR Public Relations.