This political season has so far shown that the Tea Party movement does have some sway at least with Republican and even many independent voters with the nominations of several so-called, "political outsiders". The most recent addition to this club has been Christine O'Donnell who defeated Republican moderate Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican Senate Primary. Mr. Castle had the backing of not only the party establishment but also political veterans like Karl Rove. O'Donnell's victory cause many in the establishment to publically vent their frustration with the Tea Party movement that had propelled O'Donnell to win the nomination. Mr. Rove stated it best in that with O'Donnell as the Republican Candidate it made it unlikely that she would be able to defeat her Democratic candidate largely thanks to her conservative beliefs that aren't nearly as effective in the Democratic-leaning state of Delaware. This belief has been reinforced by the latest polls that show Ms. O'Donnell far behind her Democratic opponent.
As such, some have suggested that Mr. Castle could mount a Write-In campaign as Ms. Murkowski has in Alaska after being defeated by a more conservative tea-party backed candidate. However, many venerable political analyists don't see that as very likely. Write-In campaigns are tricky to pull off in the best conditions but they are seen as the only option for non-Tea Party Republicans who believe they can still win in general elections.
This year has really shown the threat the Tea Party poses to the Republican Party as a whole. While the Tea Party movement has helped motivate many new voters towards the Republican party, it has also shown that it can derail some of their efforts to win traditional Democratic states (like Delaware). This tension between the Tea Partiers and the Republican establishment could pose an even greater danger to the GOP should they gain control of Congress because it could infighting not just this year but in the next election cycle, in which the Democrats could take advantage of the chaos. For the moment though, the Democratic voters are not nearly as motivated and for the moment have been unable to trully captialize on the tension between the GOP and the Tea Party.
This November is shaping to still be very exciting, with most experts agreeing that Democrats will lose control of the House of Representative but thanks to recent events it looks that the Senate will likely remain in Democratic hands which will make the aftermath of the Mid-Terms all that more confusing and exciting (for political wonks anyway).
Which brings me to a new link I have added to the my blog. The New York Times has this year set up a Political page/blog called the FiveThirtyEight which includes a vast array of information on races all over America including poll numbers, local statistics, voting records etc. The site also makes their own educated guesses for the likelihood of the outcomes of these races and the likelihood of who will control Congress after the Mid-terms. I highly recommend it to those who want to see the big picture this year politically.