After a momentum-fueling win in Florida, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is headed for another likely landslide in Saturday's Nevada caucuses, according to polls. But Romney's rivals are still hoping to turn the tide by wooing Tea Party activists — the same activists who upended Nevada's politics in 2010, and propelled Sharron Angle's challenge against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It's not an outlandish idea: Ron Paul's anti-tax message goes over well with Tea Partiers and he finished second in the state in 2008. Meanwhile, some think the grassroots movement could still be won over by Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. But is Nevada's coalition of Tea Partiers still strong enough to make a difference?
No, Nevada's Tea Party is too dysfunctional to matter: Nevada Tea Partiers were a force to be reckoned with two years ago, says McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed, but the group has become "dysfunctional and shattered" since Angle went down in flames. "The unifying populism of the midterms has given way here to a host of bickering factions with no common cause, no money to fund a resurgence, and no clear leaders." Tea Partiers are still out there and active, but they're too divided to get behind a consensus candidate.
"The Tea Party doesn't matter in Nevada anymore"
Tea Partiers are united... against Romney: Actually, Nevada Tea Party activists are in agreement on one point, says Anjeanette Damon in the Las Vegas Sun: "Mitt Romney is not their guy." The problem, say Tea Party leaders, is that members of their movement see insurmountable problems with all of the Romney alternatives: Santorum seems too much of a longshot; Paul's has a troubling foreign policy; and Gingrich, well, a lot of Tea Partiers just "detest" him.
"Why the fractured Tea Party movement failed to offer a presidential nominee"
Santorum might win them over with Angle's help: "Despite the level of mockery she got in her race from the national press," says Maggie Haberman at Politico, Sharron Angle "presumably still has at least some Tea Party juice in the state." And Angle is reportedly endorsing Santorum. That could be just the "shot in the arm" he needs to "galvanize conservatives and Tea Party hopefuls," and to convince them that he, not Gingrich, is the only acceptable conservative alternative to Romney.
"Sharron Angle endorses Santorum"