Was Election 2010 about the tea party or Nancy Pelosi?
With a historic sweep in the House, why couldn't the GOP grab the Senate? Another tea party paradox, perhaps. Or was it the 'Fire Nancy Pelosi' effect?
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"Losing Nevada is disappointing because it is such an important race and it was held as symbolic," Levi Russell, a spokesman for the Tea Party Express, told the Daily Caller website. "[I]n the broader picture this is a night that is a victory for the Tea Party movement because one of our top opponents since this thing began was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who we fired tonight."Skip to next paragraph
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Nevertheless, even though many seats captured by tea party-backed candidates might well have gone Republican anyway, the movement – comprised primarily of Republicans and independents – fired up conservative ranks and formalized opposition to President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
"Tuesday saw a wave of Republican red, with the Grand Old Party and its more volatile conservative bedfellow, the Tea Party movement, handed control of the House of Representatives, stripping the Democrats of their treasured majority," writes the Toronto Star's Mitch Potter.
Yet in that lurch to the right lies a difficult challenge for the Republican Party.
"The fact that Tuesday's electorate is far more conservative than the last midterm electorate in 2006 is a sign of how mobilized the right was this year, and the Tea Party had something to do with that," writes the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne. "Yet the Tea Party severely weakened the Republicans in this year's Senate races. It made the difficult task of taking over the Senate impossible."
Certainly, the Republican takeover of the House is by itself critical to shift the balance of power in Washington. And in the Senate, newly elected tea party candidates like Ron Paul and Marco Rubio can have an outsized effect, promising to severely hamper President Obama's ability to push through major legislation. "The ability of this administration to get major new programs done was already limited. This [election] just seals the deal," Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst with the Washington Research Group investment advisory firm, told Reuters.
But others see the failure of the GOP and the tea party's role in that predicament as a sign that the tea party penchant for putting forth candidates like O'Donnell and Angle will ultimately hurt the GOP's chances of wresting control of Washington.
"The lesson, if Republican activists choose to accept it, is that similar [tea party] extremism ... could cost Republicans the White House in 2012," writes columnist Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.