An article today in The Hill has collected some evidence of the fading influence of the Tea Party. The author, Josh Lederman, leads off the column with the declarative statement that “The Tea Party is falling to pieces.” He then goes on to enumerate the reasons for that assessment, including:
- It’s hard to imagine a GOP presidential candidate Tea Partiers could dislike more than Mitt Romney.
- Support for the Tea Party is ebbing across the country, according to a November 2011 study by the Pew Research Center.
- Headed by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), members of the House in 2010 formed a Tea Party caucus [that] has sat largely dormant.
- The Republican establishment […] has discovered just how difficult it is to govern when a major part of its base places its allegiance elsewhere.
- There were more than 83,000 mentions of the Tea Party in the news media in 2010; that number dropped to 32,000 in 2011 (Also 970,000 Tea Party mentions in social media in 2011, compared to 8.5 million for Occupy Wall Street).
- In congressional races [the Tea Party is] struggling against establishment Republicans in 2012 primary races.
While all of that is true, I have just one little squabble with Lederman: There is no such thing as the Tea Party and there never has been!
There are no Tea Party candidates; no Tea Party voters; no Tea Party committees; no Tea Party nominating conventions. Nothing. Every poll taken on the subject reveals that nearly all of those who associate themselves with the alleged Tea Party are Republicans. Every candidate that the Tea Party has supported is a Republican. And only Republicans ever bother to solicit Tea Party support. The Tea Party is merely a fringe faction of disgruntled Republicans elevated by GOP lobbyists and conservative media. It is telling that the Tea Party spokesperson quoted in the article was Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express (TPE). Russo runs the GOP PR firm that created TPE and once told New York Magazine that “There would not have been a tea party without Fox.”
Other than that small omission, the Hill’s article was great.