The Tea Party, the GOP and Going Forward
Now we get to see how the Tea Party effects the GOP ove the medium to long term.
There is little doubt that all that is currently going on in within some Republican primaries over the last several months is quite interesting. And, further, there is no doubt that the real question is what does it all mean for party behavior and development going forward. Is the Tea Party a serious reformist faction within the Republican Party that will have long-term implications for the composition and behavior of the party, or is it a temporary movement related to the emotions and difficulties of the moment? My inclination is to assume mostly the latter while recognizing that there may be longer-term implications for party behavior in 2012 because of 2010, but not necessarily of the type that the Tea Partiers may wish.
On that last point let me note that one very real response will be for more mainline GOP candidates to take the Tea Party insurgent types far more seriously in 2012, should they still be around. This will mean, potentially, uglier primary battles in 2012. In other words, what amounts to a handful of victories now may not translate into the elevation of the Tea Party faction, it may lead to pushback.
Much will depend on what happens in November. If the Tea Party factions is seen as a lynchpin in a series of Republican victories in November, then there will be attempts to take it more seriously. After all: everybody loves a winner, yes? But, if the Tea Party faction is seen to be have been a weigh that dragged down the GOP, or is seen to have been an obstacle in terms of winning the Senate, then I think you are in pushback territory.
This brings me to the point that not all Tea Party faction victories (or candidates) are created equal. For example, the fact that Rick Lazio lost the GOP nomination in NY for Governor strikes me as largely insignificant insofar as I don’t think it changes the nature of the electoral contest in question.
The real places to watch are fairly obvious: Delaware, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where the nature of the candidate nominated by the Republicans will have/have already had an effect on the competitions in question.
Another factor of importance: the prevalence of Tea Party candidates on the ballot may have an effect on who turns out in November. Yes, there will be enthusiasm from the Tea Partiers themselves, but it may also give many Democratic voters a reason to go to the polls that they might otherwise have eschewed given the current levels of enthusiasm in those partisan quarters.
More on this as time progressed, I suspect.
See also, the NYT: G.O.P. Insurgents Win in Del. and N.Y.