During this mid-term election year of 2014, a few republican primaries have highlighted republican establishment candidates against neophyte Tea Party-backed candidates. Is the attention some Tea Party candidates are attracting an indication that Republicans are ready for the Tea Party to take control of the party’s direction?
While many Republicans believe their party should move to the right – which is represented by the Tea Party – there are still many Republicans that believe the party will be best served in a general election with a more moderate candidate and platform. The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party continues to accentuate the great divide within the party.
A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 47% of Republicans believe Tea Party candidates running against established republican candidates is good for the party, but 35% say the Tea Party candidates are bad for the party.
The shocking loss of House Republican Leader Eric Cantor in the recent Virginia primary was viewed as a warning shot across the bow of the Republican political ship. On June 10, 2014, a New York Times column about the Cantor defeat began, “In one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history, the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, was soundly defeated on Tuesday by a Tea Party-backed economics professor who had hammered him for being insufficiently conservative.”
Even Tea Party candidates that do not win - but bring a significant challenge to well-established Republican candidates - will be used by those who want the party to move in a more conservative direction as proof that discontent with the more moderate conservatives is strong.
But the renewed attention to Tea Party-backed candidates might not be the political weathervane Republicans are looking for. Voter turnout is traditionally very low during these early primaries and that results in the possibility of more votes for fringe candidates because the more fanatical voters will vote. Many mainstream voters stay home and their influence is not felt at the polls, thus rendering a skewed result.
Tea Party-backed candidates may appear to be representing the new direction of the Republican Party, but if the party does not step back and view the big picture of a general election, the Tea Party-backed candidates will attract a segment of Republicans that will not be big enough to win in the general election.
Following the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, there were reports that the Democratic Party urged their voters to vote for Cantor’s Tea Party-backed candidate because they believed he would be easier to beat in the general election. Tea Party-backed candidates may be attracting voters who are trying to put their candidate against the weakest foe.
The Tea Party began as a political movement that advocated reducing the national debt and the federal budget deficit by reducing government spending and taxes. The name of the movement referred to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when patriots protested high taxation. But the Tea Party was hijacked by ultra -social conservatives, like Glenn Beck, whose ideology fit the Tea Party movement. Beck and others added their socially conservative agenda to the Tea Party and the party became the party of many on the far right.
Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party-backed candidate who challenged 6-term Republican Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi, was endorsed by the NRA and early in the campaign used hot-button conservative issues to define his campaign. However, later in the campaign, McDaniel shifted away from the hot-button conservative issues and focused more on the original Tea Party agenda.
The Tea Party and a move to the right may be the devil in disguise for the Republican Party that is now fighting to establish a new direction and a new identity. The question is – will the Republican Party pander to the far right and if so – would that prove to be in the best interest of Republicans?
The CBS News/New York Times poll shows that more Democrats are confident in their party than Republicans are in their party. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats feel positive about their party – while fifty-four percent of Republicans feel positive about their party. Independent voters represent the strong swing voters that can sway the results of an election and according to the poll – they don’t feel good about either of the two parties. Sixty-four percent of Independents were discouraged by the future of the Republican Party and fifty-six percent were discouraged by the future of the Democrat Party.
The evidence that even Republican voters under 40 are not in agreement with some of the views of establishment Republicans on social issues, like the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage, is becoming more obvious.
Would you set aside your core beliefs on the hot-button social issues and support a more moderate candidate - if that’s what it would take to win the general election?
A large majority are tired of politics as usual, despite da promise of change. We wish for a candidate not to impose his/her will upon the people, but like great presidents of da past, Represent the will of all the people; not a select few. Yes, God should be in front. Tired of all the lies of mass racism, hate and the lies about guns. It is falsehoods and chaos taught out children to keep a division among the people. This has grown in the last six years, despite the cover to try and hide at every turn.
Is the tea party over ?
Who would favor a larger, more costly central government? Who wouldn't favor reduced taxes and more freedom. I don't care if they are Libertarians or whatever, if they can get the corruption, out of control spending and such under control, they got my vote. The White House appointed head of homeland security has stated publicly that is make take time and be painful but even conservatives will eventually accept that the world will be run by Muslims. What if he would have said the world will be run by Hindus or Catholics? Everyone in DC is insane.