Election 2010 all about tea party? It's more: It's year of the outsider.
The tea party has energized Republicans, even if it also complicates life for the GOP after Nov. 2. But the movement is actually part of a larger Election 2010 trend -- one that features the most diverse GOP field in history.
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The Senate is a steeper climb. Republicans need a net gain of 10 seats to take control, and they would need to win most of the Democratic seats in play while losing none of their own. It is in the Senate where the tea party has done the Republicans a disservice: If the GOP establishment candidates had won their primaries in Nevada and Delaware, instead of the tea party-backed Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, those races would be almost-sure GOP pickups – and a GOP majority would be much more reachable. Instead, Senate majority leader Harry Reid has a fighting chance of keeping his Senate seat in Nevada, and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware can look forward to lots of Amtrak rides to and from Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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Among the 37 governorships up for grabs in November, Republicans are poised to make a net gain of about six seats. The stakes could not be higher as redistricting approaches, followed by the 2012 presidential race where friendly governors can be a tremendous asset. Three of the five biggest states have tight races – Florida, California, and Illinois – and if the Democrats can win two of those three, that would be a significant bright spot on an otherwise bleak election night.
Perhaps most remarkable about the 2010 campaign season is how conservatives went from despondent to defiant so quickly, after the crushing defeats of the 2006 and 2008 cycles. Two years ago, the energy was on the left, fueled by the historic candidacy of Barack Obama and the prospect of full Democratic control in Washington for the first time since 1994.
"They probably were doing what I was doing, which was being angry and frustrated and holding my nose and voting for the [Republican] party," says Ms. Leone, who owns a small marketing business and helped start a local tea party group early last year. "We don't do that anymore, because we know that our country's at stake."