Is The Tea Party Over?
One group, however, has remained suspiciously low-key throughout the primaries. The Tea Party, which played a huge role during the 2010 election cycle by endorsing candidates—most of which got elected—has dropped out of view since the race has become about Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum.
While the candidates they originally supported—which included Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain—have left the race, they have been unusually silent regarding the current candidates. Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, was even a Tea Party candidate in the 2010 Senate elections—so where is the Tea Party right now?
Rick Santorum, a candidate that seems in line with the Tea Party’s more conservative ideologies, has received too many earmarks for them to like him. Mitt Romney is distinctly not a favorite; his RomneyCare bears far too much resemblance to ObamaCare, turning off conservative voters.
Many say that the decline of Tea Party candidates is a micro image for the problems that the Tea Party is facing now, and that the Tea Party is losing both momentum and influence within American politics. The Tea Party still exists, and yet, similar to the Occupy movement, has dropped out of media view since the main burst of energy they rode to success in 2010.
It may also be that most Americans no longer subscribe to the very conservative views of the Tea Party. According to the Pew Research for the People and the Press, more people now disagree with the Tea Party than agree. Candidates endorsed by those who ran under the grass-roots organization’s banner have not done well either. The NationalJournal.com writes:
“The attempts of the tea party stars and kingmakers of yesteryear to exert influence have also fallen flat. Romney lost South Carolina even with the high-profile backing of Gov. Nikki Haley, a tea party favorite boosted by Sarah Palin when she ran in 2010. Gingrich lost Florida despite a nod and a wink from Palin and outright endorsements from Perry and Cain. Tea party darling Sharron Angle, the insurgent Senate nominee who failed to knock out Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., endorsed Rick Santorum shortly before his last-place finish in the Nevada caucuses.”
If the Tea Party wants to relive its former successes, it needs to reestablish itself within American politics. For now, however, its inability to endorse successful candidates only shows the public that they are yesterday’s news. Whether the Tea Party decides to regain its standing in politics or not, it is unclear as to the impact it will have either way.
Reach staff reporter Nandini Ruparel here.