Opinion: Thank You, Tea Party, for Getting the GOP Shellacked in 2012

Friday, November 09, 2012 - 11:28 AM

A demonstrator carries a sign calling people to 'resist' US President Barack Obama perceived socialist policies during a march of supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement in Washington. (NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty)

Right after “We’ve lost America!” and “Buy farmland and guns,” the strangest thing I heard after President Obama’s victory was that the reason Governor Romney lost was due to the fact that he wasn’t a “real conservative.” Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots (which is about as “grass-roots” as Major League Baseball) put it this way:

"We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America's founding principles... What we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment."

So the premise here is that if only the Republican Party had chosen a candidate worthy of the Tea Party, Americans everywhere would have been knocking over little old ladies in order to get to the polls. To quote Michael Bluth, “I don’t think that’s true.”

I will give the Tea Party their due in that they are perfectly capable of lining up candidates who can win seats in the House. But the average population of a Congressional district is around 650,000 people, many of whom don’t vote in the general election, much less a primary, and especially not a primary in a midterm election, which is exactly when all of these Tea Party candidates started winning. In fact, the biggest weapon the Tea Party has against the Republican Party is the threat of a primary challenge to an incumbent.

In other words, they aren’t counting on strong support for their policies and beliefs as much as they are counting on the apathy and ambivalence of the citizens of that particular district, which makes sense. In some districts, if you lined up enough of my drinking buddies at the polls and made sure a Star Trek marathon was on TV come primary day, you might have a shot at sneaking me onto the ballot, and I’m a total shambles.

Come to think of it, so was Christine O’Donnell. Remember her? She was a Tea Party backed candidate for the Senate in Delaware who ended up blindsiding a guy named Michael Castle in the primary election. Castle was a former governor of the state and a nine-term Congressman. He absolutely knew his way around DC, and for that matter he knew his way around Dover. If you live in Delaware and happen to be a Republican, then who better to represent Delaware in the Senate?

But primary day happened, and maybe Love Seed Mama Jump was playing in Bethany Beach, or maybe it was free Buffalo Wing night at Deer Park Tavern in Newark, or maybe nobody knew or cared that there was an election that day, and the next thing the citizens of Delaware knew, Christine O’Donnell was the Republican candidate for Senate.

I could make a big deal out of the witchcraft thing, but I won’t. When I was in my early twenties I dated a girl who messed around with that sort of stuff, and while I didn’t think she was crazy, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted her representing me at a fantasy football draft, much less the United States Senate. 

The point is, the Republicans had a Senate seat waiting for them, and it was one that was absolutely going to be occupied by an experienced and dedicated politician and civil servant named Michael Castle, but he was too mushy and moderate for the Tea Party, so they nominated a political also-ran who’s main claim to fame was going on MTV and asking teenagers to not masturbate. That, more than the witchcraft, represented to me a total detachment from reality. Christine O’Donnell, 40 percent, Democrat Chris Coons 57 percent.

This same scenario happened in Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was pretty much roundly despised by much of his electorate. A perfectly reasonable candidate named Sue Lowden was beaten in the Republican Senate primary by Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. Ms. Lowden was the former Chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party. Sharron Angle wanted to get rid of Social Security. Anybody want to take a guess as to which candidate was backed by the Tea Party? 

Harry Reid, 50 percent, Sharron Angle, 44 percent. Ms. Lowden’s ticket to Washington wasn’t nearly as certain as Mike Castle’s, but surely she would have gotten more regular election votes than a woman who recommended chicken bartering as a replacement for Obamacare. Nevada Republicans had a shot at not only getting another seat for the Senate, but at knocking out the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, but as usual, everybody was asleep on primary day except the Tea Party. Nevada voters might not have liked Harry Reid much, but Sharron Angle simply scared them to death.

Indiana’s Dick Lugar was not only an experienced Republican Senator, but a reliable conservative. He’s gone, taken out in a primary by Tea Party backed Richard Mourdock, who got shellacked in the general election by Democrat Joe Donnelly. Indiana is as red as a baboons butt, but the Tea Party candidate was still too far to the right for Indiana voters, particularly when said candidate had such interesting ideas about God and rape.

Speaking of rape and interesting ideas, Missouri now has a Democratic senator, thanks mainly to Tea Party favorite Todd Akin. So that’s four senate seats that now belong to the Democrats, three of which were almost sure to belong to the Republican Party, but the Tea Party rolled up in the clown car on primary day, and nobody was buying what they were selling when November came.

Like I was saying, the Tea Party can and will nail down an occasional congressional district, particularly in midterm elections when voter turnout is low. But just because you happen to be holding the conch on the island in Lord of the Flies doesn’t mean you are in any way a desirable candidate for the mainland. The only people who celebrate harder than the Tea Party when one of their “real conservative” candidates end up on a ballot for the Senate are the Democrats.

So by all means, Tea Party. Throw a “real conservative” on the big ballot for 2016. Just remember that one man’s “real conservatism” is another man’s “stuff that’s all over the floor of a cave.” The Tea Party’s win-loss record in the Senate is proof enough of that.





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Comments [21]


Left wing media, ha ha ha hah. Do you clowns actually believe that? You actually believe the media that gave Bush a pass on 9 weeks of vacation a year but slams Obama for a weekend off to play golf is LIBERAL? Or do you believe in your hearts that Obama is a secret right winger, and that's why the media has to punish him? A dozen attacks on US consulates and embassies on Bush's watch, silence from the "liberal media" but one attack on Obama's and the media is out for blood!

And honestly, are Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, O'Reilly, Caitlin Flanagan, Mary O'Grady, Marc Morano, Glenn Reynolds, Laura Ingraham, Joseph Rago, Mark Steyn, Nick Gillespie, Michael Barone, Caroline Baum, Neil Cavuto, George Will, Erick Erickson, Gerard Baker, ALL the Breitbart people, Matt Drudge, James Taranto, Sean Hannity, David Brooks, Michelle Malkin, Peggy Noonan, Paul Gigot - are those NOT media figures? I admit, I'd be ashamed to claim a group that believes "facts" are something you pull out of your butt, but they are still media figures. Claiming the media has a "left wing" bias is garbage. What you are whining about is that media has a FACT bias, and you don't like the FACTS.

Feb. 20 2013 07:19 AM
Frank from St. Paul, Minnesota

This article doesn't make any sense. The Democrat Lite -- I mean Republican -- Party got exactly who they wanted. Romney, that Ole National Health Care architect. The Ron Paulites were shut out of the convention. Gary Johnson was shunned. Ad most of us Tea Party people -- original, small government, low tax, individual freedom Tea Party people -- listened to the Pro-Life Democrats -- I mean Republicans -- and voted for the lesser of two evils.

The problem wasn't the Tea Party. The GOP moderates took care of us and shut us up. The problem was the plain ol' Republican base; it didn't care because Obama = Romney. So none of those old Archie Bunkers came out to vote.

But it doesn't matter, the technological cat is out of the bag. The Democrats are successfully voting for individual freedoms, and next comes the fiscal freedom because, succinctly, its a law of nature. You can't eat 15 apples if all's you have are 10. Our only mistake was counting on the Republican Party to do anything at all. Anything.

Go bag to the Whigs or the Brits, and leave freedom to the 3% willing to fight for something. Fools.

Dec. 28 2012 01:53 AM

20 trillion in debt by 2016 and we hear nothing but hubristic laughter as the GOP canary in the coal mine falls off it's perch with the prescient Tea Party derided and scorned as we are all led deeper down the mineshaft.

Nov. 14 2012 10:56 AM
mrdrawingguy from Nashville, TN

The GOP lost the election because they cheated, plain and simple. And if they cheat again, they will lose again. We are going nowhere...

Nov. 12 2012 05:25 PM
c4lcncpls from NC

As long as the GOP give us people like Dole, McCain and Romney, they will lose.

The GOP keeps doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Total Idiots!

It was well known from the Polls early on that Romney cold not beat Obama.
Why have 8 years of the same status quo in the whitehouse when we can have only 4 and try again in 2016 with a candidate that is fiscally conservative and leaves the social issues at the state level where they belong. It is not the federal governments job to legislate morality.

Nov. 12 2012 04:05 AM

Who won the the next four years the Supreme
Court will be purged of the idealogs that insist on regulating vaginas>


Nov. 11 2012 08:29 PM
Rochelle from Florida

I voted for Obama so that does not make me a racist. I am sick of people resorting to the race card. It is ridiculous and I am so tired of hearing that, that I am joining the Tea Party.

Nov. 11 2012 09:00 AM
RealRepublican from NEW YORK!!!

Obama is NOT:

1. a Muslim, and if he what, we have relgious freedom in the US!
2. a Socialist
3. Tyranical ruler. Real Tyranny is in Syria
4. Godless, Evil, the Devil or anything else you racists like to call him.
5. Anti-American
6. Anti-Business
7. Anti-white, whatever that's suppose to mean?
8. Pro Amnestiy, his administration has deported more illegals then Bush.

Obama is:

1. A family man people can relate with.
2. EDUCATED, unlike most Tea Party retards.
3. a realist. Health care is actually a GOOD THING.
4. Caring president that wants to help all Americans.
5. Anit-WAR, thank God, BTW where are those weapons of mass destrcution that cause over 3,000 american soldiers their lives and over trillion dollars?

Nov. 10 2012 10:54 AM
RealRepublican from NEW YORK!!!

In case you're wondering why 3 million Republicans like myself didn't show up to vote, it’s because we're trying to send a message. We're sick and tired of catering to Tea Party fascist/Racists. Inclusion is the only way to move the GOP into the next generation.

I'm so glad we are finally moving away from you Conservative redneck inbreed retards. We REAL Republicans have learned our lesson and this Tea Party stupidity will finally come to an end. Now Boehner can reach an agreement with the left and begin moving our country forward.

Go form your own party and be as irrelevant as the Green Party. Leave the GOP alone!!!

Nov. 10 2012 10:25 AM

Okay, so Romney was a moderate, what about Paul Ryan? He is certainly no moderate. But do you tea partiers hate him because he was for the auto bail out? Since Ryan is from Wisconsin, he knew being against the auto bail-out would have been political suicide for him. I am from Michigan, and Romney lost MI, WI, OH, because of what he said 4 years ago about the auto bail-out (even though what his words were taken out of context by the left wing news media). 60% of people from MI, WI, OH, said they were in favor of the bail-out. And most of that 60% voted for Obama because of that. Here in Michigan, Romney could have won. But here in the upper mid-west, that issue means jobs. I tried to talk to people and tell them to vote Romney/Ryan, but they were angry over what he said. Plus, on TV, the Dems were running anti-Romney adds 24-7 attacking him over the bail-out. These adds ran in the metro-Detroit market, but reached Northern Ohio (Toledo) as-well.
Even though Romney may have not been the perfect candidate, remember look at the alternative: Barak Obama!!! Shame on the 3 million republicans (tea partier or not) that decided to not vote in this election! You helped give us Obama. Now we have 4 more years of this Godless, left-wing muslim loving socialist, who is bound to further wreck America.
I even knew some evangelicals here in Michigan who would not vote for Romney because of his mormonism. I told them that they were crazy, because look at the alternative: 4 more years of Obama. By not supporting Romney because of mormonism, they were supporting the Devil.
Look, Mitt Romney may have not been perfect, but he was eons better than Obama. And not voting for him, was a vote for Obama.
You people do not understand that what works in your area of the country may not work in another. Wake up. You just cant run home and cry because you do not get your way. So what, that's call life.
Mitt Romney was the best candidate (in a pool with seven other flawed candidates) that we had in the primary. Do you seriously think if Bachman or Cain were the nominee that they would have won the general election? I voted for Gingrich in the primary, but he lost. Rick Perry was weak on immigration. Santorum could not even win his home state in the primary, and he decided to quit even before Pennsylvania's primary. Plus, Santorum would have lost the mid-west like Romney, because of his stance on the auto bail-out. And like it or not, Santorum was anything but a fiscal conservative while he was in office. Look, go ahead and run a Tea Partier in 2016. I wish you good luck-

Nov. 10 2012 10:14 AM

The problem with your analysis is that the tea party candidates that lost were often leading until very high profile flubs that were broadcast far and wide by a media that wants to demonize the tea party at every turn. The problem the tea party has is that it is essentially anti-establishment and thus backs people who are often very unprepared for the spotlight as they have not been groomed by the party. And taking Delaware as an example, its interesting the flubs she was attacked for given that the Democrat who used to be Senator actually made it to the white house with a string of gaffes that would circle the globe.

At the end of the day, though, it sounds as your thing is you want to be able to tick off the number of seats you win and not what you actually accomplish with those seats. This is the type of apathy that the tea party is fighting against. Establishment Republicans and Democrats are the ones that have gotten this country in the mess its. So why in the world should we back the seasoned "experienced and dedicated politician and civil servant" if it just means more of the same?

Nov. 10 2012 09:25 AM
Sam from Las Vegas, Nevada


You make a number of omissions and you're incorrect in alluding that the tea party platform/backing caused Angle, Mourdock and Akin to lose. All these candidates were leading according to the polls in their respective races until they made critical mistakes while campaigning. Mourdock and Akin made their rape comments that killed their election bids. In the case of Angle in 2010, she had a 1%-2% advantage (statistical tie) in the polls until she made a series of high profile flubs in the 2 months leading up to the election. Those missteps became sound bite fodder for Reid which killed her chance of being elected.

As an example, Angle showed she was an amateur stateswoman when she said "we need to eliminate social security and replace it with something privatized". Of course the ads which Reid's campaign ran with only included the "eliminate" part of that statement. A seasoned politician would have stated the program needs to be changed and ease any fears that the payout structure would need to significantly change (increase SS taxes, additional qualifying conditions for full benefit payments, raising the retirement age, again), which is the reality of the situation.

You neglected to mention that other Tea party backed candidate who didn't slip up during their campaigning did just fine; incumbents Justin Amash, Walter Jones and newcomers Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, Ted Cruz and Kerry Bentivolio.

Your presentation of Dick Lugar as a solid conservative is a distortion of fact. Like Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lugar's voting record demonstrated he was more often in step with democrats than his republican counterparts.

Finally, it appears that you've forgotten (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you're not deliberately misleading your readers) that the tea party was formed in 2009, so the only history it had in elections prior to this last week was the one mid-term election in 2010.

Nov. 10 2012 07:18 AM
Richard Sloat

The Tea Party needs to learn how to govern in a democracy. Like it or not this involves compromise with your opponents. To stick to a rigid dogmatic ideology kills mature legislated deals, our do nothing Congress. We get no real deals, no cuts, no revenue increase, just more debt, Sequester, and the fiscal cliff. No way to govern our Nation intelligently. My "Taking the Tea Party Republican Tax Pledge", is on YouTube link;;

Nov. 09 2012 06:20 PM
Adam Dawson from Arlington, VA

I stand absolutely corrected. You are 100% right. It was Sue Lowden on the chicken. Now please take your hands off the shift button.

In order to make up for my error and to further illustrate my point, I will present you with a series of increasingly buggy ding dong statements from Sharron Angle that might have very well fired up the Cleetuses and Tea Partiers, but scared the crap out of everyone else in Nevada.

1: "Second amendment remedies."
2:"Making Lemons Into Lemonade"
3:"We Need The Press To Be Our Friend"
4:"Sharia Law is taking hold of the US"
5:"Why should I have to pay for another kids Autism?"
6:"I'm the first Asian Legislator in the Nevada Legislature."
7:"Our Social Security should be just like Chile's."

Etc. Etc.

Nov. 09 2012 04:16 PM


Nov. 09 2012 04:05 PM

Right-wing commenters are walking right around your accurate analysis so they can continue to live in their fact-free, objective-analysis-be-hanged world. (To be fair, I've been seeing extremists on the Left the past few days engaging in the same behavior.)

The good news is the Tea Party crowd and their Libertarian fellow travelers won't let go, even though their movement is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

The bad news is that we now have to deal with the zombies.

That means we have to do the whole Zombie Land thing: aside from remembering cardio, we must not forget double-tap.

See you in 2014, Zombie Boyz.

Nov. 09 2012 01:52 PM
Delaware Clark

I enjoyed this article. Especially the writers uncanny knowledge of the goings on in the First State.

Nov. 09 2012 01:40 PM
Adam Dawson from Arlington, VA

According to the polls before the Delaware primary, Mike Castle had a commanding lead over Chris Coons. And not just in some polls. Every poll.

Also, bear in mind that Castle was Delawares at-large Congressman for 18 years. At-large means he was the only one. If the citizens there were comfortable enough with him to send him to the House, they were surely ok with sending him to the Senate, and the polls reflected that. So yeah, it would have been Senator Mike Castle (R-DE) most assuredly.

And there is absolutely no way Indiana Republicans can justify getting rid of Dick Lugar. A bird in hand is definitely worth more than a nutjob in the bush.

Nov. 09 2012 01:40 PM

This article was obviously written by someone who has "lived and worked in and around Washington, D.C. for most of his life" and is out of touch with reality. Your article while likely factual, is based on a false premise which is that the seats mentioned were sure to go to republicans if only they nominated a mainstream canditate.

Case in point...the last time Deleware elected a republican senator was in 1999, and that was the reelection of William Roth who had held the seat since 1971. Hardly a good example of a republican friendly state.

Todd Akin - The NRSC pulled support and ad buys in support of Akin after his comments, significantly limiting his campaign from a financial standpoint.

Mourdock - Also made stupid comments about rape and abortion and lost by 5.5 votes. The Libertarian canditate received 5.8% of the vote in one of the stronger showings by a 3rd party canditate, and is arguably the closest to the tea party in terms of political belief.

In no way was your circumstantial evidence conclusive that the tea party to blame. At the end of the day this is not about party and winning. It's about saving our country from bankruptcy! Many within the party (evidenced by low turnout numbers) felt that Romney was no better than Obama in TRULY fixing our country's budget problems.

If Obama is driving the car off the cliff at 100mph and Romney at 70mph the bottom line is everyone in the car is going to die! We need someone who will get in, put social issues on the back burner which is what the majority of the populace wants these days, and step on the brakes before its too late!

Until a republican (or a blue dog democrat) comes along who can articulate our problems and the advocate tough solutions this will continue to happen. Sadly it may be too late.

Nov. 09 2012 01:18 PM

Well, the fact that this guy is writing for NY Public Radio and has lived his whole life within sight of the Capitol Dome tells you he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he's not about to changed the fascist quo. I'm sure that if Obama was a Tea Partier this guy would be shredding him for not ever writing a legal brief we could see, despite being president of the Harvard Law Review, but because he's not, Adam conveniently ignores that stuff. It's ok, he can pick out a couple of things about a couple of Tea Partiers and try to apply inductive reasoning to impugn the rest, but it's a argument fallacy that has been weakly tried many times when their principles don't stand up to the harsh light of scrutiny.

Nov. 09 2012 12:55 PM
Barnacle Bill from atlanta

Romney never has been a conservative. He is middle of the road, at least he was at one time and he seemed to be moving back into that direction.

Nov. 09 2012 12:39 PM

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