Tea Party High, Tea Party Low

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

At the moment, it looks like the senate seat in Colorado is going to go Democratic. If it does, the tea party scorecard looks distinctly weak this cycle. In places like Utah, Kentucky, Florida, and Pennsylvania it produced victories that Republicans would have gotten anyway. In Delaware, Nevada, Colorado, and West Virginia, it produced losses where more mainstream candidates probably would have won. And in Alaska it produced a civil war.

In the House, though, the tea party seems to have done fine. So what to think of this? It seems like there are two obvious frames. The first is that insurgent movements like the tea party start out at the local level and move outward over time. So maybe it was too early for them to win statewide seats, but by 2012 they’ll be in good shape. The second is that tea partiers can do well in local races where districts are fairly homogeneous and voter distress is easy to stoke, but that kind of angry entreaty just doesn’t work at a higher level, which by definition requires a media-centric approach and a more pluralistic appeal.

I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it, but I suspect the answer is more the latter than the former. As time passes, the economy improves (touch wood), and the tea party inevitably gets integrated into the machinery of the Republican Party, it’s going to have to moderate its message to succeed. Just how much it’s going to have to moderate is still an unanswered question.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate