Weak Tea
May 21, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) easy win over Tea Party–backed challenger Matt Bevin is only the most prominent of Tuesday night's victories of the Republican establishment over less-mainstream candidates.

In Oregon, pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby defeated more conservative state Sen. Jason Conger for the right to face Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). In Georgia's GOP primary for an open U.S. Senate seat, the two establishment-backed candidates — Rep. Jack Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue — advanced to a runoff election, eliminating a slate of hardline conservative candidates. And in Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson (R) soundly fended off a challenge from Tea Party-financed trial lawyer Bryan Smith.

There are lots of ways to look at these results: It was a good night for incumbents and well-financed candidates (isn't it always?), and probably a bad night for Democrats' hopes to pick off a Republican-held Senate seat. But if you score Tuesday night as a fight between the GOP establishment versus the Tea Party, the final tally is 4 to 0.

"Republican primary voters are speaking out and making clear that they don't want professional Tea Party groups hijacking primaries and picking their candidates," GOP operative Brian Walsh tells The Wall Street Journal. "Those days are over." That seems to have been the case on Tuesday, at least. Peter Weber

May 8, 2014

The Tea Party has continued to wear out its welcome, according to a new Gallup poll released Thursday. In the survey, 30 percent of adults said they are "opponents" of the movement, tied for the highest mark Gallup has ever recorded. Meanwhile, support for the Tea Party checks in at 22 percent which, though not quite a record low, combines with the spike in disapproval to give the Tea Party its worst net approval rating ever in Gallup's polling.

Much of that shift has come from Republicans growing increasingly weary of the group. Tea Party support within the GOP has fallen from 61 percent back in late 2010 to 41 percent today.

The movement continues to wield outsize influence on the Republican Party itself. Yet whether that internal leverage will translate to electoral success for Tea Partying candidates remains very much in doubt. Jon Terbush

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