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Looking At The "Tea Party Saves The GOP" Meme

An interesting analysis of Tea-Party-backed-candidates, and their successes/failures over at FirstRead:
For all the talk of the Tea Party's strength - and there will certainly be a significant number of their candidates in Congress - just 32% of all Tea Party candidates who ran for Congress won and 61.4% lost this election. A few races remain too close to call.

In the Senate, 10 candidates backed by the Tea Party ran and at least five were successful. (Race in Alaska has not yet been called.)

In the House, 130 Tea Party-backed candidates ran, and just 40 so far have won.

Identifying Tea Party candidates is undoubtedly inexact. Our criteria, generally, was to include anyone who has either been backed by a Tea Party group or has identified themselves as a member of the Tea Party movement. Toward the end of this cycle, however, seemingly every Republican was trying to associate themselves this way. One left off the list was Dino Rossi, despite Jim DeMint endorsing him, since Tea Party groups backed Clint Didier in the primary.
...to which Doug adds:
The problem is that there’s no analysis given of the seats — just a listing of districts and candidates. 15 of the losses were in California alone and another 7 in New York. Granted, there were also losses in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah. But, offhand, I don’t know how competitive these races would have been. It’s quite possible, though, given the vagaries of gerrymandered districts, that the reason the Tea Party was able to run candidates is that the Republican primary doesn’t attract much interest. Losses in seats that were never in serious play shouldn’t count against the Tea Party.

Now, it seems clear that the Tea Party’s selection of truly awful candidates in some Senate races cost the Republicans some seats they could have won — and quite possibly a majority in that body. But the movement also generated some significant chunk of the vaunted “enthusiasm gap” that helped Republicans take back the House. It’s a very mixed bag.
A mixed bag indeed.