Adam makes a good point about the effect of potential Tea Party challenges on voting behavior over the next two years. But it’s worth stepping back to assess the Tea Party’s performance last night.
Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle went down hours ago, Ken Buck was recently declared the loser in Colorado, and now Joe Miller on the ropes in Alaska. For the moment, the Tea Party’s performance in last night’s Senate elections is looking rather underwhelming. Yes, Rand Paul is a huge win for the movement, and some would argue the same goes for Florida’s Marco Rubio and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson. But Rubio isn’t exactly a libertarian opthamologist and political novice; he’s a former Florida state house speaker who, as a conservative recently put it to me, might just as easily have run as a Jeb Bush protege in a different political climate. And although he debuted publicly with fiery speeches at a couple of their rallies, it at took Wisconsin’s Tea Parties some time to warm up to Johnson’s candidacy. You can argue that there were five authentic Tea Party candidates last night, and Paul was the only one among them who triumphed.