Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "AC360°," "John King, USA" and "State of the Union" as well as participating in special events coverage.
(CNN) - Once upon a time, back after Barack Obama's impressive 2008 presidential win, defeated and depressed Republicans had to do something to prove they still had a pulse. So leaders went out of their way - and it wasn't easy - to recruit stellar, well-known, GOP candidates for Senate: a governor in Charlie Crist of Florida, a secretary of state in Trey Grayson of Kentucky, a seasoned and popular congressman in Mike Castle of Delaware.
At the time, it seemed like a really good plan. And it got even better when President Obama and his jolly band of congressional Democrats shepherded through some controversial, and unpopular, legislation. Huge bills to reform health care and stimulate the economy played right into the GOP wheelhouse: too much government, too much spending.