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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Has Tea Party Fervor Cooled Off?

Josh Kraushaar notes at National Journal that pundits frequently cite the threat of tea party primary challengers as an explanation for congressional GOP voting behavior.
But as the argument became ubiquitous in 2013, something funny happened. The number of conservative challengers going up against GOP members of Congress hasn't developed as had been expected. In fact, there are currently as many notable Democratic primary challengers to incumbents as Republican intraparty battles. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho is the only Republican currently facing a credible primary challenger, who is backed by the Club for Growth. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, facing blowback over passing a subsidy-filled farm bill, is the other member facing a similar threat. Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis is facing former Miss America Erika Harold in the Republican primary in Illinois, but few expect her to win.
Unlike in 2010 and 2012, when Republican divisions were front and center, there are as many noteworthy Democratic primary challengers this time around....
Meanwhile, only two members—GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and John Campbell of California—have announced their retirement so far, a low number that suggests members are hardly running scared from their next election.
...
 There are many reasons why that's the case. Conservative activists have already pushed some of their biggest enemies out of the Congress, leaving fewer targets behind. Outside groups aren't raising money the way they did in 2010 at the apex of the tea-party wave and in 2012 during the high-stakes presidential election. The disappointment felt by the grassroots after Obama's reelection sapped some of the base's enthusiasm. Jim DeMint, the main agitator inside the Senate, is now operating from the outside, with less political influence.