By Brigitte L. Nacos
While President Barack Obama won reelection and the Democrats additional seats in the U.S. Senate, some of the Tea Party’s high profile candidates lost their races for the Senate (Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock) and the House (Joe Walsh, Allen West).
Some observers concluded that
the election results signaled the beginning of the end for the Tea Party
movement and its political influence. According to the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee’s web
site, “The 2012
elections have been the undoing of the 2010 Tea Party tsunami that crashed upon
Washington. The Tea Party is over.”
That seems more wishful thinking than reality based on actual election results. Borrowing from Mark Twain I believe that reports of the Tea Party’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Beginning with Congress’s upper chamber, the number of Tea Party endorsed U.S. Senator’s will increase at least from four Tea Party Caucus members in the current Senate (Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Lee of Utah, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Rand Paul of Kentucky) by three (Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska) for a total of seven. This is hardly a weak result for the Tea Party movement.
Of the 60 House members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, six did not run for reelection, 47 were reelected, six lost their races and one race seems not decided yet.
Besides the 47 reelected Tea Party Caucus members, there will be additional GOP Representatives endorsed by some Tea Party or Tea Party-like group. For example, a number of the “strong conservatives” endorsed by Rick Santorum’s Patriot Voices PAC were elected to the House, among them Missouri’s Ann Wagner and Montana’s Steve Daines.
There is no official record of Tea Party endorsements for all candidates. The Tea Party Express, one of a few national Tea Party organizations, officially endorsed a number of candidates. But so did many of the local groups. But we do not have complete numbers. Nor do we have complete numbers for the total number of Tea Party endorsed members in the current House since not all joined the Tea Party Caucus.
All told, this is the conclusion based on data, not on wishful thinking: The increase of Tea Party endorsed members in the next U.S. Senate and the far from devastating decrease in the House based on Tea Party Caucus members do not justify to declare the Tea Party movement dead.