That would be the term for the conventional wisdom that passes for punditry and insight these days. The CW drives the narrative as editors and scribes try to put events in a 'helpful' context that, while often wrong, nonetheless flavor stories and events through the ubiquitous media filter. For example, the 'popular' Bush has morphed into the 'unpopular' Bush, 'and Iraq is driving his numbers down. So what does he need to do to get his mojo back?' and so on.
This is often false and simplistic, but it's nonetheless out there. Bush, for example, is never getting his mojo back and will never be above 40% job approval again. He screwed up so royally on Iraq and Katrina (it's not just Iraq) that no one will ever trust him again. But editors can't get themselves to admit that Bush has already been deemed a failure by the American pubic, so they have to play the 'what would it take to..?'. game.
As far as Congress goes, here are examples of the narrative from First Read:
The Washington Times notes that political analysts -- so far, at least -- are stopping short of predicting a Democratic blowout and looks at the reasons why Republicans might not lose control of either chamber of Congress this fall.
The AP, on the other hand, says Republicans are three steps away from losing badly. “First step: Voters must focus on the national landscape on Nov. 7 rather than local issues… Second step: Voters must be so angry at Washington and politics in general that an anti-incumbent, throw-the-bums-out mentality sweeps the nation… Third step: Americans must view the elections as a referendum on President Bush and the GOP-led Congress… Less than six months out, most Democratic and Republican strategists say the first two elements are in place for now - a national, anti-incumbent mind-set - and all signs point to the third.”
It's not yet set in stone (in the CW) that the Dems will win in October... even analysts aren't sure, and some who think they will won't say so for a variety of reasons (including playing the expectation game, or superstition, or sheer orneriness or even that they don't know). But by Labor Day, it will be clear what the narrative in the election cycle will be.
In any case, the new narrative is that Bush is a drag and a drain on Republicans, especially moderates and the endangered. And that Bush must run right to succeed (despite the fact that it's moderates that are deserting him, both in Congress and with the voters). So read the narrative with a grain of salt. Things are worse for the Republicans that the media is suggesting but until scandal indictments come and until after Labor day, you won't be hearing as much now as you will after.