A quick update on Republican thinking about the midterm elections, specifically about the prospects for keeping the House:

Everyone knows the campaign has been an up-and-down affair for GOP strategists, and that the middle of the summer, after the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki and the uproar over separation of illegal immigrant families, was a very down time. Republican strategists who a few months earlier felt confident about keeping the House turned toward pessimism. Their big hope was that something would happen to make things better.

Now, perhaps it has.

"I would say in the last week to ten days we've had the best polling we've had since June," said one GOP strategist Wednesday. "In the vast majority of districts, the numbers I'm seeing in the last week are leaps and bounds better than anything I've seen since summer."

Some nonpartisan observers agreed. "House polls are going to be noisy, given the small sample size," wrote the New York Times' Nate Cohn Wednesday. "But take everything together, and, on balance, it's been a good 10 days of state/CD polling for the GOP in a lot of important battlegrounds."

The improved GOP numbers appear to be the result of the much-discussed Kavanaugh Effect, referring to the recent confirmation of President Trump's second Supreme Court justice. But it's not just Kavanaugh.

"Kavanaugh is 75 percent of it," the strategist said. "But it's also the trade deal. The president told Canada to f--k off, and he won, America won. It's Trump the dealmaker."

[More: How Kavanaugh has shaken the midterm elections kaleidoscope]

Assuming the poll numbers do indeed reflect an improved reality for Republicans, the two questions to ask are: 1) Will the current uptick last? and 2) Even if it does, will it be enough?

"I have no idea," said the strategist. The thinking is, since the election is still three and a half weeks away, Republicans can't count on the base's Kavanaugh good feelings to last. Something else to fire them up — a fight about some energizing issue — would come in extremely handy in the next few weeks. But it is not clear what that might be.

That's especially true because the GOP's margin of safety is so thin. Democrats need to pick up only 23 seats to take control of the House. Republicans believe that some of their districts that are the most educated, affluent, and suburban are pretty much lost causes already. The strategist described the number of such districts as a "handful." When I asked him how many that meant, he said perhaps a dozen. Of course, that is two handfuls and then some.

If a dozen GOP seats are already gone, then the party can lose only 10 more and keep the House, and then only by a nearly unworkable one-seat majority.

The other factor tempering any shift toward GOP optimism is money; as in, Democrats sure have a lot of it. "Democrats challenging House Republicans are starting to announce jaw-dropping totals for their third-quarter fundraising," NPR reported Tuesday. Raised it and spent it. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent $64 million so far, compared to $47 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Democratic candidates for the House have spent $109 million, versus $60 million for Republican candidates.

"We're looking at a green wave more than a blue wave," the Republican strategist said. "The money is incredible. If you would have told me six months ago that the Dems would raise this much money, I would have laughed at you."

Finally, Republicans are still struggling to keep districts left open by the record number of GOP lawmakers who are retiring from the House.

Still, with everything the GOP is up against, the strategist is feeling better. Not good — better. At times in the past two months the outlook has appeared pretty grim. "Now," he said, "we're pretty close to even."