lmost any way you look at it, the Tea Party had a terrible Election Night. The small-government movement picked up one important new member, Senator-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but two other Tea Party–backed candidates, Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, did much to keep the GOP from taking control of the Senate, losing races a more moderate Republican should have easily won. And in the House, at least 10 of the Tea Party Republicans swept in during the 2010 election were swept out, including movement stars Joe Walsh (Ill.) and (pending a possible recount) Allen West (Fla.). Even Rep. Michele Bachmann barely kept her seat. "The Tea Party is over," boasted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Is it?
The Tea Party is losing steam, fast: After Tuesday's rout, it's pretty clear that "the wave has crested for the birther, Bircher, Tea Party types," says Phil Perrier at The Huffington Post. The core of the movement — older white people — are becoming ever more electorally irrelevant, and Tea Partiers' ugliness toward President Obama backfired. It turns out that "though loud and obnoxious, the Tea Party never had the numbers or the power that the media gave them credit for. Now they have very little indeed."
"End of a Tea Party"
The Tea Party is alive and thriving: Sure, "some Democrats say the Tea Party is dead," Columbia University political scientist Brigitte Nacos tells The Boston Globe. But "that's all baloney." A few Tea Partiers lost their election bids, but most didn't, and Tea Partiers blame the losses on bad candidates — including Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket. More importantly, "when you look at the basic agenda of the Republican ticket, it's pretty much what the Tea Party likes" — and if you don't stay in line with that agenda, "next time they are going to mount a primary fight against you."
"Tea Party feels strengthened even in midst of Mitt Romney defeat"
The movement has at least a few good years left: The Tea Party still has a lot of clout in the Republican Party, and a sizable bloc in the House, Stephen Hess at the Brookings Institute tells Reuters. But the GOP faction's days are numbered. Their no-compromise tactics are wearing thin, and as the economy improves, their reason for being — economic panic and anger — will too. Indeed, I'm so sure of their pending demise that I wrote a Tea Party obituary: "A group of people who had an impact on the Republican Party in an organized sense between 2010 and 2016."
"Tea Party still has clout despite U.S. election setbacks"
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