Friday, July 16, 2010

Can Tea Party Candidates Win Elections In Less Conservative States?

In several Republican primaries, Tea Party-endorsed candidates enjoyed great success. Sharron Angle won the Nevada primary for US Senate by a landslide and started the general election campaign with a huge lead against incumbent Sen. Harry Reid.

In Florida's Senate contest, Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio forced Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to run as an independent. Polls showed that Crist would have lost the primary election to Rubio by a wide margin.

Finally, in Kentucky, Rand Paul defeated his Republican primary challenger by a comfortable margin. Paul emerged from the primary with a huge lead over his Jack Conway, his Democratic opponent.

These victories, combined with a simplistic media narrative that portrays the election results as a bad sign for incumbents, helped to fuel the belief that the Tea Party was a powerful new political force that would wield tremendous political power in November. Many commentators, however, are now rethinking that message.

Once conservative Tea Party candidates began running general election campaigns and receiving scrutiny from the national media, their leads, particularly in politically divided states, evaporated. Today, a Mason-Dixon poll shows that Harry Reid now leads Angle by 7 points. In Florida, most polls have shown Crist leading Rubio since he abandoned the Republican Party. In addition, the latest poll has Conway and Rand tied in Kentucky (which is more conservative than either Nevada or Florida).

It is too soon to call these elections. Nevertheless, the tightening of the races confirms earlier analysis which predicted that Tea Party candidates would encounter difficulty in politically divided states -- even if they trounced opponents in Republican primaries. While Tea Party candidates should have an easy time in reliably conservative states like Utah and South Carolina, how they will perform in other jurisdictions remains an open question.

11 comments:

Joe said...

Well I don't think Florida is that far to the right. The Florida republicans may be but not the majority of the voters.....i know that we've had republican gov. for years but they've for the most part been moderate. Lastly Marco Rubio is an IDIOT don't forget he said...the election violence was proof Iranians need to have "the right to bear arms"

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Joe: I agree; Florida is "less conservative." That's the point I am trying to make - that the TP might not do well in less conservative states.

broc said...

It's not about being "conservative", Rand and Angle are just crazy. If you have to bother defending their beliefs, you shouldn't even bother.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

"Rand and Angle are just crazy"

Apparently....

davemartin7777 said...

Tea Party candidates will do better in right-wing states.

Well duh.

I barely have a high school diploma and I could have told you that.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Davemartin: Apparently, I wasted a lot of time pursuing higher education.....

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

Yet again I find myself loving the comments that follow posts. "Rand and Angle are just crazy" and "Apparently, I wasted a lot of time pursuing higher education." Priceless!

Dave, I think, though your comment does do a great job of capturing the obviousness of one side of the coin of the pundits' (and the prof's point); it doesn't address the other, less obvious side. The thrust of it is that, now that primaries are over and tea party candidates have trounced their republican opponents, their leads have all-but disappeared.

Though it hurts my little neo-hippie progressive heart to admit this, whenever you have more polarized elements of a party trying to purify the party by forcing everyone within the party further to the extremes, you will end up losing voters. This is just as true for the progressives as it is for the Tea Party. Both elements need to keep in mind the political reality that most American voters are moderates and candidates who are too far to one end or the other will lose almost every time.

As for Angle & Reid I wonder how much of his lead has to do with him reposting all of her nutty website content after she had taken it down in an effort to appear more moderate to the voters in the general election?

Whatever happened to that candidate in Cali with the FCINO ad with the demon sheep? I never watch television and I haven't watched my faves on the comp since Feb. Anyone know how that turned out? I've wanted to see the end of that contest since that ad first made news.

Howie said...

Excellent post Darren. And I agree with Hippi Chicki Nikki that the reality is that most Americans are moderates. Movements like the Tea Party and Nader's folks just end up losing votes for the dominant parties.

davemartin7777 said...

Hippi Chicki Niki, great post!

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

I finally ran across it. I am putting it here for anyone who missed the most hilarious Tea Party Candidate action not done by Angle. I totally want that demon sheep thing as this year's Halloween costume!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/vp/35265696#35265696

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

Whoa! I think you may have talked about this somewhere before, but I think this a few levels above Rand Paul.

http://www.alan.com/2010/08/02/sharron-angles-extremeism-summed-up/

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