Has The Tea Party Peaked?.
Other signs abound that the tea-party wave of 2010-2012 has peaked. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., up for reelection next year, is openly taking on the conservative base on immigration without facing any retribution from a conservative challenger. Sen. John Cornyn, who took conservative flak for supporting moderates as NRSC chair from 2010-2012, is expected to cruise to another term without primary opposition in Texas. The Club for Growth, agitating for intraparty challengers, has rallied behind only one GOP target so far. Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, the erratic tea-party insurgent in 2010, isn’t polling as well among Republicans in his second go-around.
All this is a far cry from the deeply antiestablishment, anti-incumbent sentiment that swept Washington for much of the last decade. Despite polling that shows Congress is as unpopular as ever, the intensity that drove Republican primary challengers seems to be abating. Over the last two elections, three sitting Republican senators were defeated in the primaries. Four House members apiece lost primaries in each of the last three House elections (not including the member-versus-member redistricting matchups). As significant is the fact that in the last two elections, at least 20 representatives (20 in 2010, 20-plus in 2012) won less than 60 percent of the vote in primaries—unusually high numbers that illustrated the anger at Washington across the country. Those numbers don’t look like they’ll be matched next year.
There are many reasons why that’s the case. Conservative activists have already pushed some of their biggest enemies out of the Congress, leaving fewer targets behind. Outside groups aren’t raising money the way they did in 2010 at the apex of the tea-party wave and in 2012 during the high-stakes presidential election. The disappointment felt by the grassroots after Obama’s reelection sapped some of the base’s enthusiasm. Jim DeMint, the main agitator inside the Senate, is now operating from the outside, with less political influence.
The Tea Party was mugged, beaten and left for dead by Lois Lerner and the IRS gang. Surviving that attack only to be kicked while down by the John McCain / Karl Rove branch of the RINO Republican establishment.
But down does not mean out. Many more people (many of whom have only marginally been observing current events and politics up to now) have taken notice of the scandal-paloosa, they see an ever expanding Stasi like surveillance state, they observe the lawless IRS actions, and some are only now taking notice of an ostensible one party system. Those missing millions of conservative voters can and will join the Tea Party movement – whatever the party is named.
To be sure, this type of thing may take several more election cycles to play itself out.
When it happens, the rise of a new party will likely come as a “complete surprise” to most of the Rep & Dem establishment because many of the new party voters will express their support only with their votes at election time – and shock the established Rep & Dem regime.